Wednesday, 4 May 2016

TV Review: WWE Monday Night RAW #1197 (New Day & Cassady vs. The Vaudevillains & Dudley Boyz)

On 2nd May 2016, WWE aired the 1197th episode of Monday Night RAW live, from Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, on USA Network. The New Day teamed up with Colin Cassady to take on The Dudley Boyz & The Vaudevillains in eight man tag team action, Kevin Owens faced off with Cesaro for a shot at The Miz's WWE Intercontinental Championship, after the pair had confronted new "Power's" of Monday Night RAW, Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns tagged with The Usos to face AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson...but was it any good? Let's take a look!


monday night raw #1197 match card


Match 1 - WWE Intercontinental Championship #1 Contendership - Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro

Match 2 - Men's Singles - Goldust with Fandango vs. Tyler Breeze with R-Truth 

Match 3 - Eight Man Tag Team - WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day: Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods & Colin Cassady vs. WWE Tag Team Championship #1 Contenders The Vaudevillains: Aiden English & Simon Gotch & The Dudley Boyz: Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley

Match 4 - Women's Singles - Becky Lynch vs. Emma

Match 5 - WWE United States #1 Contendership Fifteen Man Battle Royal - Alberto Del Rio vs. Bo Dallas vs. Curtis Axel vs. Damien Sandow vs. Darren Young vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust vs. Rusev vs. Viktor vs. Zack Ryder vs. Titus O'Neil vs. Sheamus vs. Baron Corbin

Match 6 - Six Man Tag Team - WWE World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns & The Usos: Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso

Commentary: John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz (Owens vs. Cesaro only), Maryse (Owens vs. Cesaro only) & WWE United States Champion Kalisto (WWE United States #1 Contendership Battle Royal only)

Sponsors: Popeyes (Fried Chicken Fast Food Restaurant), Tapout (Sports Clothing & Accessories), JC Penney (Mid-range Department Store) & Truth (Anti-Tobacco Campaign)

Theme(s) - "The Night (2014 Remix)" by CFO$/Kromestatik and "Denial" by We Are Harlot

fast-forward...A lengthy recap of WWE Payback 2016's McMahon family segment where Mr. McMahon gave Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon joint control of Monday Night RAW, as well as Shane and Stephanie's involvement in the shows main event that saw Roman Reigns retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship over AJ Styles...

cesaro defeats owens via disqualification for the wwe intercontinental championship #1 contendership after miz interference



I was very much glad to see Stephanie McMahon and Shane McMahon's opening exchange cut short by Kevin Owens, as the siblings were pretty much just going over the same ground that they had the night before at Payback 2016. I've got a feeling that the two McMahon's being in control of the show is going to start grinding on me more and more over the next few weeks. Owens was out to tell the McMahon's why he should be given a shot at the WWE Intercontinental Championship, which seeing as he has yet to receive his rematch after losing the belt at WrestleMania 32 was a fairly reasonable demand. On the other hand, you had Cesaro who also had a claim to a shot at belt currently held by The Miz, following making the champ tap out the previous night and with a fairly sizeable beef with Owens also for his involvement in the closing stages of that very same match. Therefore it made perfect sense to have Owens and Cesaro face off once again, in a rematch from Monday Night RAW #1194! 


I think I said about Owens and Cesaro's match from Monday Night RAW #1194 that these two could probably have a good match in their sleep and this was further proof towards the statement. The pair worked hard to produce a stellar television encounter, taking advantage of the various on-going narratives well and complementing them with hard-hitting action. A particular highlight of the bout for me was Owens taking advantage of Cesaro's injured shoulder by pulling it across the top rope and sending The Swiss Superman to floor, before nailing him with a Frog Splash off the apron. It was a mild shame that we didn't get a definitive finish as we did with their encounter three weeks ago, but having The Miz attack Cesaro (following The King of Swing hitting a running uppercut on the Intercontinental Champion, who was on commentary) allowed for their feud to develop further and also allowed Sami Zayn to get involved in order to make the save for Cesaro. With Cesaro having only won by DQ and Zayn ending the segment holding up the strap after Maryse had help Miz escape a Helluva Kick, we're left with a pretty confused field for WWE's second strap, but I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the next two episode's that lead into Extreme Rules 2016.

fast-forward...Stephanie McMahon and Dean Ambrose met backstage, with Stephanie announcing that she'll be Ambrose's guest on the Ambrose Asylum later on...A weird segment with The Gorgeous Truth and FandanGoldust (The Golden Dango makes absolutely no sense) getting all emotional or something...Strong backstage segment in which Roman Reigns confronted AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and resulted in a six man tag team match also involving the Usos being made for later on...Tyler Breeze went over Goldust with some shenanigans from R-Truth and Fandango at ringside, literally no one cared...


new day and cassady defeat the vaudevillains and dudley boyz



The segment that would lead to this eight man tag team match was a bit of a weird one. It was pretty obvious that plans had had to be shifted after The Vaudevillains WWE Tag Team Championship Number One Contender's Tournament Final match with Colin Cassady and Enzo Amore on Sunday night was cut short due to Amore suffering a concussion. This meant that The New Day had to awkwardly shift themselves into a match with The Vaudevillains at Extreme Rules 2016 in 20 days times. To be fair to both New Day and The Vaudevillains both groups did a terrific job under the circumstances, with New Day especially owning every second that they were on camera and having the Scottrade Center hanging on their every word. What did stick out like a sore thumb however was The Dudley Boyz coming out to claim they deserved a title shot, despite losing to Cassady & Amore in the Semi-Finals of the #1 Contender's Tournament, whilst also throwing weird barbs about "Downtown Abey" at the team that would go on to be their partners. I'm sure WWE could have put on this match with a whole lot less hassle than what they presented here. 


Once the eight guys got going in the ring, they managed to produce a solid tag team bout that had a number of high points spread throughout. The Vaudevillains were showcased well, with Dudley Boyz, Bubba Ray especially, attempting to show them how to be a successful tag team, whilst Simon Gotch used dastardly methods to stay in control of the match by taking advantage of a distraction and throwing Kofi Kingston into a ringpost, putting a half to Kingston's hot tag moments earlier from Woods. Part of the contest felt a little bit long winded in their execution, but the build towards the face teams second hot tag of the match and Colin Cassady's big moment was done very well indeed. There was a lot of fun to be had in a Big Cass rampage, including a brilliant moment where Cassady hit a big boot to knock Gotch off the apron and straight into a Belly to Booty from Big E. Cassady's integration with New Day guys came to a satisfying conclusion when Kingston saved him from a 3D from Dudley Boyz, which would lead to Big Cass hitting the East River Crossing on D-Von and get the pinfall to cap off an impressive performance.

fast-forward...Recap of Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles at Payback, followed by replay of the backstage segment with Reigns, Styles, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and The Usos earlier on...Recap of Charlotte vs. Natalya at Payback, as well as footage of Charles Robinson wrestling in WCW...

emma defeats lynch



I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of time that Emma and Becky Lynch were afforded in their contest and whilst the two still only got just under 6 minutes to showcase their talents, I felt like both women took the opportunity and put together a fun match that further the storyline between the two nicely. The two flowed well in the ring, whilst also showing signs of their problems between each other with some quality brawling and strong core of action centered around Lynch's hair. I thought the finish was a simple but effective piece of booking, as Emma simply poked Lynch in the eye and hit a Michonoku Driver for the victory, with this acting as a refreshing contrast to the current over-booking surrounding the Natalya vs. Charlotte feud elsewhere on the programming. 


stephanie mcmahon cancels the ambrose asylum and brings back the highlight reel



The Ambrose Asylum is no more. It lasted just a few weeks before Stephanie McMahon decided to "cancel" the talk show segment on the talk show segment she was "cancelling" in one of her first acts since being appointed in joint control of Monday Night RAW. Stephanie's interaction with Dean Ambrose was a lot of fun to watch with the pair seeming to understand not just their own characters, but their opposite numbers' and just why each other were either popular or unpopular with the majority of the audience. However, the biggest development of the segment was Chris Jericho's vicious attack on Ambrose, that came after a brief brawl between the two as Jericho headed to the ring to present a reinstated version of the Highlight Reel. Whoever thought that the destruction of a potted plant called Mitch would stir up such emotion. Also a plant to the back of the head looks sick as fuck. If we've learnt anything from this whole Jericho vs. Ambrose feud it's that their needs to be more potted plants throughout the WWE Universe. 

rusev defeats adr, crews, corbin, dallas, axel, sandow, young, ziggler, sheamus, cara, stardust, o'neil, viktor and ryder in a battle royal to become #1 contender to wwe united states championship



A fairly run of the mill battle royal to crown a new #1 Contender to WWE United States Championship, that was made unwatchable at points by some truly horrendous commentary from the champion, Kalisto. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if WWE took the title off of him because of just how bad this performance was, as he stumbled through pretty much everything he had to say and often got cut off by his fellow commentators. Inside the ring, the crumbling of the League of Nations played a major part in the narrative as Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and Rusev all managed to reach the closing stages of the match, only to further fracture as ADR and Sheamus were sent package and Rusev was left alone with Zack Ryder. A clever use of Ryder here, as he got a big reaction when he managed to get to the final two, and this produced a quality atmosphere for last stretch of the contest. Of course, it was The Bulgarian Brute who would win the match, because he's a tuna melt. With Lana joining him to celebrate, it felt almost like the pair had been sent back in time to 2013! 

charlotte gets robinson to clear up payback 2016 controversy, natalya puts flair in a sharpshooter



I'm getting very tired of the storyline that Charlotte and Natalya have been given and the direction heading out of Payback 2016 has made things worse for me. You've got two very talented ladies here, who are capable of putting on a brilliant and captivating contest, aided by a simple feud. Yet instead what we've got is Charlotte and Ric Flair calling out referee Charles Robinson as a reference to a nickname that the referee had fifteen years prior and using an incident that happened years before even that. It doesn't excite me to see a 33 year old woman put a 67 year old man in a sharpshooter, it doesn't make me want to see anyone get beaten up or win a title or anything like that. The highlight of the whole segment was Natalya pausing for a little too long after saying "Last night you paid a referee to screw me..."!

fast-forward...The commentary team pushes new WWE Network show Camp WWE...Backstage, Stephanie McMahon told Charlotte that she'll defend WWE Women's Championship against Natalya in a Submission Match at Extreme Rules 2016 with Ric Flair banned from ringside...


styles, gallows and anderson defeat reigns and the usos



A rather different six man tag team contest here, as there was a whole lot going on and a number of different relationships between the performers to keep in the back of the mind. For this reason, I'm not sure how well a more casual fan would have reacted to the action. Luckily, I'm not a casual fan, so I actually though it was pretty damn cool to see WWE mixing up the formula. The main thing I noticed whilst watching the various sequences and ins and outs of the contest, was just how well WWE has managed to position Roman Reigns as their WWE World Heavyweight Champion after "failing" so spectacularly in their initial attempts based around his title win against Triple H at WrestleMania 32. It really didn't matter that parts of the crowd would boo Reigns, his character almost seemed to call for it, without ever becoming what anyone would refer a "heel". The dynamic that WWE has decided to go with for AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, has only enhanced that, putting the Champ in a feud with a loose group that will appeal to the audience that dislikes Reigns, whilst also presenting a trios that those that have accepted Reigns with open arms will find it easy to dislike, and also managing to keep AJ Styles playing a babyface face at the same, with The Usos also helping to a lesser degree.


After Styles had managed to pick up the win for his team, by pinning Jimmy Uso after a Phenomenal Forearm, we got the most-thought provoking part of the feud so far, as the narrative progressed quickly between the six man. Gallows and Anderson decimated Reigns, but Styles was reluctant to hit Reigns with the steel chair his buddies had provided, Gallows and Anderson just continued beating on the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but then The Usos blindsided Styles and nailed him with the same chair that Styles had refused to hit their cousin with. Hold on there, The Usos are uber good guys though right? Styles hasn't even really done anything to those Samoan fellas. It was more blurring of the face/heel divide that could have ended up very messy, and it's a shame that it ended up feeling like a little bit of ends to mean by the end. Reigns would see Styles fighting off his cousins with his own chair upon his recovery and therefore see red and bring some sweet, swift Shield-like justice to Styles. The powerbomb that WWE World Heavyweight Champion hit through the announce table look super cool, as Styles got some real height before crashing through the table. A strong conclusion to the show, that urged me to tune in next week to see just where the storyline would go. It's been a brave direction for the company to take so far and one that I hope pays off in the long run, as it will open up a more diverse range of options for WWE to explore with it's storylines elsewhere. 

finally...
atpw scale rating - 5.48/10



Another perfectly acceptable piece of sports entertainment television here by WWE, continuing the post-WrestleMania trend of creating perfectly watchable episodes of Monday Night RAW. The Eight Man Tag Team main event was probably the weakest of the three marquee bouts/segments this time out, but still had plenty of fun moments and managed to make the best out of a bad situation involving Enzo Amore's concussion the night before. The six man tag match and the moments that would close the show were my personal pick for the best bit of telly across the three hours, but I also thought that Cesaro and Kevin Owens' opener was also of a high quality, and you know the two could have done even better if there weren't other plans for both men over the next few weeks! The undercard was propped up by an enjoyable interaction between Dean Ambrose and Stephanie McMahon and Chris Jericho destroying a potted plant, but the segment hat focused on the WWE Women's Championship feud wasn't a lot of fun to watch at all! 

A solid episode here to head out of Payback 2016, but I'd be hoping for improvements to a number of areas to keep things interesting before Extreme Rules 2016 in the second half of the month.

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