The PG Era Rant: Raw, 5.26.14

When last we left our heroes, they lay
in peace. Never Forget those who sacrificed on this Memorial Day.
The PG Era Rant for Raw, May 26, 2014.
Live from the University, Knoxville,
TN. Please inform Rebel and Crazzy Steve they’re in the wrong
building.
Your hosts are Cole, King, and
Bradshaw, with Josh, Book, and A-Ry on the pre-show.
Your Pre-Show Report:
SIR NOT APPEARING ON THIS RAW: Santino
Marella.
SUPERSTARS MATCHES: Big E Langston vs.
Titus O’Neil, Ryback/Axel vs. Truth/Woods
RAW PREVIEW: The Shield and Evolution
sign contracts; Daniel Bryan makes a decision; Sheamus faces Alberto
Del Rio
Also announced: Paige vs. Alicia Fox
for Payback made official.
Memorial Day tribute video to open.

From there, we go to the arena with the
Authority. Cole informs us that Daniel Bryan made the trip to
Knoxville and is in the building. Stephanie calls tonight’s show
“historic” and she feels good about it. It’s because tonight is
about choices – such as Daniel Bryan’s choice. Will he do the
right thing and surrender his title? (Crowd chants YES; Stephanie:
“That’s right! It’s the right thing to do!”) And Daniel Bryan
knows it’s the right thing because he’s the people’s champion. And
the people want to see the champ active and competing. Daniel Bryan,
right now, cannot do it. Stephanie, in the long run, didn’t want to
be right about Bryan being incapable of championing, but Bryan’s body
gave out on him. Stupid B+ body. So in spite of Bryan wanting to do
the right thing – and Stephanie encourages a chant for Bryan,
because she knows he wants to defend it and they want him to, but it
can’t happen. So tonight, Bryan will do what’s right and vacate.
HHH says he’s sure Bryan doesn’t want
to surrender, but he’s incapable of competing. So hopefully he’ll
make the right choice. Speaking of choices, every generation has a
performer who becomes a superstar. Some people, when they get there,
burn out. Some become legends. Why? Because they stand the test of
time. Every month, every year, every generation, they remain
dominant because they can adapt. Those that don’t (like Bryan) just
perish. The ones that last live forever. That’s Evolution. So this
Sunday, at Payback, the Shield will find out that you cannot stop
Evolution. But first, a contract signing tonight in the ring. And
the Shield’s choice is: adapt and not show up, or sign and perish.
Stephanie has an announcement about the
Pay-Per-View, and she calls out Brad Maddox. Brad is slow to come
out, and honestly, he looks a little nervous. HHH: “Come on, TV
time is money, let’s go.” HHH explains the problem: in Seth
Rollins’ match with Batista, no non-officials could be at ringside –
and HHH and Orton were official somethings. But Maddox named Ambrose
and Reigns as commentators, which isn’t Best For Business. HHH asks
Maddox to explain himself. Maddox says he didn’t want it, but that
he was forced to. Stephanie hushes down Brad and says she knows Brad
felt like he didn’t have a choice. Which is why the Authority also
has no choice but to bring out Kane.
JBL: “If Brad Maddox has a choice
right now, he’d leave Tennessee.”
Lawler: “Don’t just stand there,
run!”
He tries to, but runs into a HHH right
hand. Kane stands over Maddox, kicking him to the ground. Stephanie
is enjoying this. She orders Kane to teach him a lesson. Kane picks
Maddox up and holds the goozle for a long time before chokeslamming
Maddox. From there, it’s a Tombstone. Kane sets off the pyro
(slight delay there) as the Authority looks down at what’s left of
Maddox… but Stephanie has more to say. See, on top of that, Maddox
is fired. So there. Stretcher comes out for Maddox as JBL says he
almost feels sorry for Brad.
Later
tonight: Daniel’s Choice. Plus, Bray Wyatt has a message for the
entire CeNation.
Note: if Brad Maddox doesn’t do
something on Sunday, they’ve missed an opportunity. Even if it’s
failed interference.
Bo Dallas wants you
to change for the better! Bo-lieve! Tonight!
Antonio Cesaro v. Rob Van Dam.
Given that these two are challengers for titles on Sunday, I’m not
betting on a clean finish. If Brad Maddox were still GM, I’d bet on
a tag team match erupting. But first, Bad News: it’s the first day
of summer. But that’s not the bad news. The bad news is that we
can’t fit in our swimsuits because we’re fat. Also, on Sunday, “your
precious RVD” will have his Indian Summer end. Cesaro attacks RVD
when the latter is staring at Barrett with stomps and a back suplex.
Uppercuts, but RVD with a leg cradle for one. Spin kick by RVD and
he lands right hands, but Cesaro turns it into a Karelin suplex.
Running uppercut by Cesaro, then a forearm and another runner.
Cesaro stomps away in the corner, then a boot choke. Blind charge
hits elbow, and RVD with a flying kick and over-the-top clothesline.
Apron moonsault try, but Cesaro catches and throws him into the
barricade, twice, as we go to break.
Cesaro/RVD, part two.
Cesaro gets two off of whatever, three times over, then a one.
Military press slam gets two. To the chinlock, but RVD fights out
into a slugfest. RVD with a spinkick to win it for a double KO. RVD
crawls over for one. Back superkick by RVD, into Rolling Thunder,
for two. Cesaro reverses a whip but hits elbow, and RVD with a
flying flip senton for two. RVD gets a slingshot plancha, then
superkicks Barrett – who was just on his way to leave, so he says –
for good measure. Back in, RVD with a high kick from close quarters,
and the split-legged moonsault for two. Uppercut by Cesaro, but RVD
gets the stepover enzuigiri. He’s going up, kicking Barrett again
for good measure, but Cesaro catches him with a German suplex and
bridge for the win at 9:33. **3/4
But before we go anywhere, Sheamus races to the ring and Brogue
Kicks Cesaro into next week. Heyman’s face is priceless. Sheamus
then shakes Cesaro’s hand to rub it in.
Later
tonight: Bray Wyatt has something to say to what’s left of John
Cena’s fans! Plus, Daniel Bryan has a tough decision to make! And,
a contract gets signed – place your bets as to who eats table!
I
say Seth Rollins. As for Cesaro/RVD – interesting that they give
Cesaro a win here. I would’ve had a DQ finish, and matches like this
are why you have them. But the ending makes me think Cesaro’s the
favorite.
Let’s
Rewind to SmackDown, where Summer Rae screwed over Eva Marie.
Something something Total Divas.
Eva Marie v. Summer Rae.
Eva Marie’s on Maxim’s Hot 100. We remind you that Summer Rae was
back last week and attacked Layla. Eva slaps Summer to start, then
stops Summer and pulls the “your shoe’s untied” trick – and it
works! She knocks down Summer and mocks her blowing kisses, but
Summer reverses to the corner and kicks away. Hairpull slam (Eva
oversold it, but why not) gets one. Summer throws Eva’s head to the
mat and taunts her. Three times. Crowd loves this match so much a
Daniel Bryan chant breaks out. More mat slams… and here comes
Fandango and Layla! Summer Rae is understandably angry at seeing
Layla kiss Fandango onstage, which allows Eva the rollup for the pin
at 1:56. Yay, it was under two minutes and I don’t have to rate it!
Summer Rae throws a fit after the match.
Backstage,
Orton talks to Batista when the Rhodes Brothers show up and ask why
they’re not booked. They are issuing an open challenge to anyone on
the roster. Batista tells them to get lost, and Orton reminds them
that he got them both fired. Cody notes about how they beat the
Shield – who in turn has Evolution’s number. Orton congratulates
them on their momentum. Cody calls them lapdogs… and finally HHH
shows up. Cody directs his challenge to Orton and Batista, and HHH
makes it happen. Orton’s up for the workup. Batista hates the term
“skinny-jeaned sellout” that Cody used.
So Eva Marie is stuck up on the show
and has shown signs of heeling in the ring… Summer Rae makes
everyone’s life miserable… and Layla is hanging out with that
stuck-up Fandango… who am I rooting for? Well, I’ll root for
Layla. Deal with it.
More
Memorial Day tribute video stuff.
Drew McIntyre v. El Torito.
Let’s get this out of the way now: YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE THE
CHOSEN ONE! McIntyre shoves Torito from behind, and Torito draws the
line in the sand in the ring. Each one encourages the other to
cross, and Torito gets the better of it. A springboard is caught,
but Torito reverses to an armdrag. A moonsault is caught and Drew
slams Torito. Drew stalks Torito, but Torito lands on his feet only
to get piefaced. Drew flings him into next week. Drew picks up
Torito and points to Hornswoggle, then gets a stalling suplex into a
fireman’s carry. Drew climbs the ropes and tries a superplex, but
the Matadors distract and there’s a fight on the outside. Torito
gores Drew’s calf for the pin at 2:26… wait, what? 1/2*
Hornswoggle attacks Torito from behind and tries to unmask him.
Then he succeeds in yanking Torito’s tail off his outfit. Torito
runs around with a pain in the backside. This segment alone takes at
least 2 points off of the final score.
Up
next: Bray Wyatt to talk!
It
was three years ago, Vince. Let it go. And yes, I’m certain that’s
it.
The
de-tailing gets a replay and some Serious Voice from JBL and Cole.
And we head back to the trainer as the Matadores beg him to re-attach
the tail. El Torito’s in pain.
He’s
here. We look back at last week, and we look forward to Payback. Of
note: they cut two or three lines from the song, which makes the
count seem shorter than it was. And Bray starts by leading another
sing-along. He says the words are true – Bray has the whole world
in his hands. The world leans on Bray because deep down, he wants
what’s best for everyone. The problem is that what’s best isn’t
easy. Sacrifices must be made. We go to work and break our backs to
keep the family fed, and we suffer while another man tells us who to
be. But, when will you understand that it’s all pointless? The
poison is setting in, and the only way to cure a snakebite is
anti-venom. So which one is Bray? Bray knows what his role is in
this world: the necessary evil that the world needs. And in the end,
if you’re with Bray, you will stand by him; but if you’re his enemy,
you will fall. We all understand that Cena is an enemy to us all.
But don’t you worry, because on Sunday, he will be the last man
standing (Bray, not Cena). But why should John be the only one
punished? There’s more to go around. “To get to the king, you
must first go through the pawns.” (Crowd: CENA!)
And
speaking of kings, may I have a word with Jerry Lawler? Well,
Knoxville’s close to Memphis. Lawler refuses. Bray: “How
unfortunate.” And he sends Rowan and Harper to him. Will Lawler
do it the easy way or the hard way? Bray just wants to talk –
Cole, don’t be a hero. You either, JBL. Rowan is leaning over
Lawler. But JBL has had enough and goes to the ring, only to get
intercepted by Harper. Rowan throws JBL into a discus lariat.
“Now,
look what you’ve done, Jerry. Just come on in.” Lawler very
nervously heads to the ring, looking at Harper and Rowan the whole
time. “C’mon, Jerry, I ain’t got all day.” Cole points out
Jerry is in no condition to be picked on. Crowd chants for Jerry.
Cole hopes Lawler doesn’t do something foolish. Bray even provides a
chair for Lawler to sit in. Lawler nervously sits down. Bray just
wants to ask a few questions. First: are he and Cena friends? Sure
they are. And Lawler’s helped Cena reach the top, right? How? By
calling on commentary all the nonsense about what a great man Cena
is. But never once did he question Cena’s morality – just bought
it, like everyone else. Lawler has fed the poison, and it’s now out
of control. So does Lawler feel guilty? Do you feel any remorse for
destroying lines in his corrupt name? How does being a liar feel?
And did you think you’d get away with it? So, for what happens next,
Bray’s sorry it had to be Jerry, but it’s a necessary evil – as
Harper and Rowan pick Lawler up. Bray with the INVERTED LOOK OF DOOM
as Cole is freaking out on commentary…
and
Cena RACES to the ring to make the save, but the numbers are too much
for Cena, too. Bray has Lawler hostage as Harper and Rowan pick Cena
up. Bray chokes Lawler with his boot and says that at Payback he
will hurt Cena. He will end him then, but as for now? He wants Cena
to watch Lawler fall, and it’ll be on Cena’s hands. Sister Abigail’s
Kiss is loaded up… but the Usos now make more than enough number
and help Cena clear the ring once and for all. Lawler retreats to
the table as the two sides face off.
Cena:
“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” Bray has crossed the line. When Bray first
got here, Cena was excited to see him (Bray: “I’m a god!”). Bray
was different and charismatic, making people listen. But does BRAY
listen to himself? He called himself a god! Lincoln said that a
test of a man’s character is power, and power has made Bray sick.
Look at what Bray just tried to do: attack an innocent man because he
disagrees! That’s not necessary evil, that’s just plain evil. The
crowd is almost unanimously behind Cena here. Almost. Cena believes
in who he is and what he does. He believes that Bray must be
stopped, and that’s what he’ll do at Payback. It’s no longer about
who wins, it’s about being the last man standing. Bray has accused
Cena of living a lie, but now he wants to punish the innocent? At
Payback, there will be justice, Cena-style. Justice may be blind,
but for Bray, payback will be a bitch. This segment gets the 2
points back. Lawler checks on JBL at ringside as Cena raises the
Usos’ hands in the ring and the Family retreat in the aisle.
Later
tonight: Daniel Bryan has to decide if he’ll vacate! Plus,
contracts!
This.
So much this. Why couldn’t we have more of this? Finally, you’ve
made it clear: Bray is a hypocrite and evil, and getting behind Cena
– no matter what Wyatt says about change – is what has to happen.
I loved it.
JBL
has been taken to the back.
Zack
Ryder v. Alexander Rusev.

Ryder has the US flag for Memorial Day. Pre-match he gets cut off
trying to speak on Memorial Day. Of note: I called this match before
Rusev appeared. WWE is predictable. Note: one of my globetrotting
friends says Lana speaks Russian like an Australian speaks Spanish.
Say what you will about that. Lana says that if you don’t go forward
in compliance with Mother Russia, you will be disciplined. There is
no choice, just the future. Rusev says stuff. TO THE MATCH, as
Ryder sticks and moves and gets an opening flurry before getting
smashed into the ropes. Rusev mounts and works the back of the head.
It’s already Rusev Crush time. Tapout comes at 39 seconds. But
Rusev won’t let go, so Big E Langston races in to do something about
it… and he gets beaten up too. But Rusev charges into a
clothesline, and Langston recovers to send him out of the ring.
Langston waves the flag to fire up the crowd.
Backstage,
Alberto Del Rio is talking to Stephanie McMahon about something.
Tonight,
contract signing! I wonder if a brawl will break out.
If
that’s our Memorial Day play-up, it’s weird. After all, you have a
kayfabe VIETNAM VETERAN who likely lost friends in war. Why not have
him play it up? Meh.
Another
Memorial Day bumper.
Randy
Orton and Batista v. Cody and Dustin Rhodes.

Hey, I think there’s a six-man on Sunday. Batista and Cody start,
with Batista backing Cody into the corner and landing shoulder rams.
Blind charge eats boot, and Cody drops an elbow. Batista with
clubbing blows, but Cody with the sliding uppercut and Dustin’s in.
Batista backs Dustin into the corner, and Orton comes in to take
over. Dustin hooks the ropes to stop a powerslam, and he gets an
Oklahoma Roll and a slam of his own for two. Cody in off the top
with a shot to the arm. Orton goes to the eyes and gets mounted
punches, but Cody escapes and works Orton over in the corner. The
ref has to separate them, allowing Orton a shot to the gut. Cody
fires back, but gets caught in the gut with a knee. Orton with a big
stomp and Batista’s in. Batista chokes Cody on the bottom rope, and
back in, he works the arm. Short clothesline gets one. Cody tries
to fight back but gets caught with a back elbow. Batista tries an
Oklahoma Slam, but Dustin tags in and lands shots on Batista.
Kneeling uppercut, but Orton cuts Dustin off and Batista gets a
spinebuster for two. Orton in as Dustin is dumped, and he hits the
pose as we go to break.
This
just in: the June 23 Raw will be in Washington DC and it will be the
1,100th
Episode! Do I go?
Evolution/Brotherhood,
part two.

Batista has Dustin grounded and throws him into the ropes, getting a
kidney punch. Batista drops his weight on Dustin, but Dustin stops
another kidney punch and tries to fight back. Batista cuts off the
tag and floors Dustin with a lariat for two. Dustin gets a
springboard back elbow out of the corner, and the crowd is begging
for the hot tag. HOT tag Cody, and he takes Orton down with the
follow-on clothesline. Big kneelift and he goes to the apron,
getting a springboard dropkick for two. Disaster Kick to Batista,
and Orton is cut off on a blind charge, but the Disaster Kick lands
into the RKO out of NOWHERE. A second RKO for good measure ends it
at 10:07. Much better match when Batista wasn’t in. BUT WAIT! It’s
actually an elimination match match, so we continue. Oh, and now
it’s No Holds Barred. So we resume – and I’m not counting the
intermezzo in the timeframe. Orton and Batista surround Dustin, and
despite Goldy’s best effort it’s a 2-on-1 mugging. Orton with the
back suplex on the barricade. Batista throws Dustin into a barricade
across the ring. Orton stands over Dustin and picks him up, and in
the ring, it’s the Draping DDT. But Dustin backdrops out only to
turn around into a spear. Orton decides that’s enough and gives
Dustin an RKO. Batista wants the Batista Bomb, and Dustin eats it
for the pin at 12:43. That next two minutes raised the match a bit.
***
Do
you Bo-Lieve? You’d better, because he’s next!
Now
THAT’S more like it. There was definitely a shade or two of the
Viper in that match. The more Orton goes psychotic, the better he
is.
Sin
Cara v. Bo Dallas.

JBL has been released to ringside. He and Lawler shake hands and
agree they’ll never do that again. Dallas has the microphone and
introduces himself. He says that Raw is the summit on the top of the
mountain of his dreams. He’s learned that we don’t conquer the
mountain, we conquer ourselves. All you have to do is Bo-Lieve!
Lockup, and Dallas with a fireman’s carry and he celebrates a little
too much. As in, he high fives ringside. Cara catches him with a
dropkick on the way in, then a plancha. Back in, Cara chops away in
the corner, but Dallas with a Hammer Throw for two. Dallas with a
suplex – that smile is so silly – and rolling kneedrops, but the
third one is a handstand kneedrop. He celebrates himself again, then
lands a back elbow. Cara cuts off a second one with calf kicks and
an enzuigiri. Cara with chops and a moonsault press for two. Tajiri
elbow follows, then the Angle Slam. Cara up top, but Dallas gets
separation, and an alley-oop and tornado Bulldog wins it at 2:54. *
Dallas almost looks surprised that he won. He does a victory lap
around the ring, then returns and takes the mic to thank the crowd
and his Bo-Lievers. But you don’t get satisfaction from winning, you
get it from effort. If you gave it your all, you’re already a
winner. Just Bo-Lieve! And he gives Cara a celebratory hug.
Up
next, what will Bryan do?
I
don’t know if Bo Dallas has the talent to maintain this character,
but they can push him all the way to the upper card just on how good
he is at selling it. Seriously, this reminds me of Kurt Angle in his
debut – the over-the-top celebrating, the victory laps, and so on.
I loved it.
Your
Main Event main event is the Usos facing Harper and Rowan in what
appears to be a non-title match.
We
look back at Brad Maddox getting beaten up and fired.
Stephanie
is back. Earlier tonight, she and HHH said it was a night of
choices. It’s important to have an active WWE Champion… so let’s
cut to the chase: Daniel Bryan needs to do the right thing. It’s
time.
Daniel
Bryan is wearing a neck brace on his way to the ring. He’s in street
clothes, but he has the gold. Stephanie offers a microphone and says
she’s glad to see him. It’s a long road to recovery, right? And
yeah, Stephanie could just strip Daniel of the title, but she doesn’t
want to martyr him. So Daniel needs to tell the fans why he must
vacate, and that it’s the right decision. They deserve an active
champion. Epic matches. Unforgettable moments. Things Daniel can’t
do – he’s not physically able. And Daniel’s not selfish, so he’ll
do the right thing… for the fans, right? He needs to vacate.
Bryan
says that becoming champ was the payoff to years of hard work. But
Stephanie’s right: the injury to his neck is worse than they thought.
In no small part because of a man^H^H^Hdemon Stephanie can’t
control. Although tonight we saw better. Stephanie: “No one’s
lying about your condition.” Bryan agrees there’s no shame in
surrendering the title, healing, coming back, and regaining it…
Stephanie:
“You’re right, there is no shame.” She guarantees he will have
the championship opportunity as soon as he’s healthy.
Bryan
really doesn’t want to relive the last 8 months, as you can imagine.
So there’s no shame, because the fans deserve an awesome champion.
But! But Stephanie wanted to put it on Bryan, and it’s not about
Bryan, but Stephanie. Stephanie has wanted to strip Bryan of the
gold ever since Mania, when Bryan beat HHH. This isn’t about the
fans; Stephanie’s doing it for Stephanie. And if Daniel vacated, it
would negate everything he fought for and that the fans fought for.
It would destroy the YES movement that began in defiance of the
Authority. If they handed the titles over, it would be throwing it
back in their face. So, the word from Daniel is one Stephanie
doesn’t hear often, or ever: NO.
NO!
NO! A thousand times NO!
Stephanie
says she was afraid of this. The people are messing with his brain,
or maybe it’s the injury. Stephanie didn’t want to bring this up,
but: two weeks ago, Brie put her hands on Stephanie. Now, Bryan
didn’t see it, so let’s show everyone. Bryan approves of it… but
you can’t touch the boss. And she’s both Brie’s and Bryan’s boss.
Every action has consequences… so here’s Daniel getting another
chance to do it right. This Sunday, either Bryan surrenders the
title, or Stephanie fires Brie. Stephanie walks off as the
announcers yell at each other about whether any of this was
justified.
Tonight,
they sign a piece of paper!
Well,
well… this is getting interesting, even if it means more Stephanie
on your screen.
We
look back to last Monday, when Alicia Fox upset Paige.
Alicia
Fox v. Emma.

They shot a few bubbles early during Fox’s entrance. Whoops.
Lockup goes nowhere, and Fox shoves Emma and tries a kick. Emma with
a clothesline, but she goes into the corner. Blind charge misses,
and Emma with the Tarantula and low corner splash. Fox refuses to be
pulled out of the corner and walks off. But it’s a ploy, as when
Emma chases, Fox boots her hard in the head. Axe kick while Emma’s
draped on the apron follows, and back in, it gets two. Fox shoves
Emma around and slaps her a bit in the corner. Emma responds with a
slap of her own, and after a missed boot, Emma gets a cradle for the
pin at 2:11. Fox is furious and cuts Emma off as she leaves,
throwing her into the barricade. She tosses her back in, stomping
away and getting the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. She tells off the ref
and throws Emma out of the ring from the side suplex position.
Alicia: “I don’t lose, okay?” She heads to the announcers (who
are not comfortable) and begins bullying around everyoneat ringside,
ringing the bell over and over right in Lawler’s ear. “I AM NOT A
LOSER!” She slaps around some crew members as she leaves, even
giving the trainer a wedgie and threatening a camereman She sprays
soda into a crewman’s face, and into a fan’s, then does a Stone Cold
salute on herself before throwing the cans at a crewman… and
apologizing. 1/2*
Contract
signing later! Adam Rose next!
Um…
if you’re going to give her a character and a push, would it hurt to
give her wins?
John
Cena narrates another Memorial Day bumper. This one played in the
arena and got an ovation.
On
the Payback Kickoff, we’re getting a Mask vs. Hair match between
Torito and Hornswoggle.
Damien
Sandow (as Davy Crockett) v. Adam Rose.

This began when Sandow was insulted because a crewman thought he was
part of the Exotic Express in his wild frontier get-up. EUGENE IS
DRESSED AS JOEY RYAN. YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID. JBL is cranky about
the Entourage, which lets Lawler know he’s back to 100%. Rose dances
around the ring, but Sandow gets an armbar, which Rose somersaults
out of ten times over. Sandow with a clubbing blow, but Rose holds
Sandow away with bicycle kicking. Sandow charges and gets nailed
anyway, and a shoulder block gets two. And now Zeb and Swagger
arrive, harassing a member of Rose’s entourage. The lemon, of
course. Sandow tries a cradle and misses, and the Hennig Cutter gets
the pin at 1:37. Swagger races in and beats up Rose. WE THE PEOPLE!
Zeb Colter wants more punishment, but Swagger walks into a
spinebuster and Rose goes into a brawl on Swagger. Rose keeps up the
assault as Swagger tries to bail out. “Nobody touches my lemon!”
The entourage is out to celebrate some more. On the good side, Zack
Ryder is definitely not the rabbit. JBL is indignant.
Up
next, it’s Sheamus facing Alberto Del Rio! You remember that from
the pre-show?
Darn
it, I was hoping JBL would be gone for the whole show. When he’s
cranky, he runs over Cole and Lawler on commentary, and it’s less
fun.
Please
explain why people watch Legends’ House. Seriously.
Sheamus
v. Alberto Del Rio.

Wait, this just in: Sheamus v. Barrett will be on SmackDown.
Lockup, and Del Rio forces Sheamus into the corner. Neither side
gets a clean break, and evenutally Del Rio gets the better of it with
kicks. Sheamus unloads with fierce rights, and after an awkward
armdrag exchange, Sheamus gets the Finlay Roll for one. Sheamus goes
up, and a second-rope kneedrop gets one. Del Rio retreats to the
apron, and that just means it’s Ten of Clubs time. Sheamus heads
outside and sends Del Rio into the announcers’ table, and back in,
he’s caught with a kick to the head. A second kick sends Sheamus to
the outside as we go to break.
Sheamus/Del
Rio, part two.

Del Rio has Sheamus floored and applauds himself, then chokes away
on the middle rope. (This is because Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick in
the corner and got hit with a Backstabber.) Sheamus takes some
rights and gets ticked, firing back. Irish Hammer connects, as does
another, but a charge sends his shoulder into the post. Del Rio
kicks Sheamus’s head against the post, getting two. Del Rio punches
and taunts Sheamus, which causes him to Hulk Up into the Irish Curse
for two. Del Rio with an enzuigiri from his back, but a blind charge
eats elbow and the Celtic Cross follows. Sheamus gets Del Rio in the
corner, and an Oklahoma Slam is next coming out. Sheamus is ready
for the Brogue Kick for real now, but he’s disoriented and Del Rio
gets the step-up enzuigiri. Low superkick follows for two. Armbar
is escaped before it can be applied, and the Brogue Kick connects for
the pin at 9:16. But Paul Heyman is your guest announcer and mocks
him. And reminds us what Brock Lesnar did. Heyman keeps talking
about how this Raw match has no meaning (not like Del Rio’s a Paul
Heyman Guy). And suddenly Sheamus turns to Heyman, allowing Cesaro
to kick him in the back of the head. Cesaro with a series of mounted
punches before officials pull him off. But he bursts through and
continues the attack. Sheamus refuses to stop fighting, though, and
Cesaro drives a knee into Sheamus’s head and lands the Neutralizer.
**1/4
Sheamus is being checked on by officials as Cesaro walks off
triumphant.
Up
next, our main event contract signing!
See,
this is where Sheamus would be smart and state that he’s not
medically cleared for Payback, and well, he has 30 days so it looks
like he’s under no obligation to defend. Of course, Sheamus fights
through everything, so that won’t happen. Which means Cesaro will
win, but Sheamus will have been injured and it won’t mean as much.
It’s the little things that cut out a push.
Main
event angle.

With no Brad Maddox, Michael Cole is your host. The announcers have
been hammering that this match at Payback is what they believe to be
their final showdown. Cole leaves as Rollins takes the contract.
Ambrose calls tonight historic, and even he says they won’t be in the
same ring after Sunday, because at Payback, one team will be
eliminated, not just from the ring, but from the business. Reigns is
tossing out all the chairs. Rollins says he doesn’t buy the
nonsense. It’s gone past the 3-on-3 showdown signing a paper. Thus
the clearing of the ring (which Ambrose helps in): it’s time to get
down to business. Rollins begins to look over the contract when
Evolution emerges.
HHH
wants to clarify what everyone’s witnessing and what’s about to be
signed. When the contract is signed, it’ll be the last time the
Shield is in a Raw ring. Too bad, really. The Shield could’ve had
it all. HHH can judge talent well – just look at Orton and Batista
– and he looked at the Shield, and he remembered signing them to
the WWE. He thought to himself at the time that they would change it
all, that they were the future. But the Shield threw it away. And
now, the irony: HHH is going to watch them sign the contract that
ends their career. So, are they sure they want to do this? Do they
really want to ensure that Sunday is the last we see of them?
Without
responding to Evolution, first Rollins, them Ambrose, then Reigns
sign the contract. Although Ambrose fumbles the pen as he does.
Reigns then tosses the contract out of the ring at Evolution’s feet.
Now, it’s Evolution’s turn. First Orton, then Batista, then HHH.
The crowd is hushed and waiting for the explosions. HHH says the
Shield will be a statistic… and Reigns shushes him, saying enough
talk, let’s go.
Evolution
gets onto the apron. The standoff is set. HHH smiles. And
Evolution jumps back down… no they don’t, here we go! It’s
Ambrose/HHH, Batista/Reigns, and Orton/Rollins, and neither side has
an edge. Crowd declares this Awesome. Ambrose sends HHH flying out
of the ring, then low bridges Orton. Rollins gets the 7-10 split
with a flip plancha, but Ambrose is floored by Batista only for
Batista to be Superpunched. Reigns wants his spear, but HHH emerges
with the sledgehammer. Ambrose and Rollins go after HHH, but Orton
RKOs Rollins to stop it. Batista spears Ambrose, and Evolution is
standing tall. HHH winds it up and nails the sledge into Roman’s
neck. OUCH. A shot for Rollins and another for Ambrose follows as
Batista and Orton clear the announcers’ table. Reigns is picked up
by HHH as the table is cleared. Triplebomb to Reigns (Batista
delivers) sends him through the table. HHH and his hammer stand tall
and soak in the booing as Orton smiles. A replay of all the insanity
follows as JBL hammers home that everything, literally everything, is
legal. Evolution mocks the Shield’s pose – using the sledgehammer
– as we go out.
THOUGHTS:
Lots
of go-home stuff on today’s show, and that’s perfectly acceptable.
Only five matches as of now – plus one angle – but there’s still
SmackDown, and it’s pretty clear there’s a sixth match, perhaps a
seventh will be coming up. I’m not sure who will be in it, but only
six matches? I don’t see it.
Anyway,
this show was all about making you want to see Payback, and given the
Cena/Bray and Evolution/Shield stuff, I think they’ve succeeded.
Throw in the secondary title matches, and I think Payback will be a
fun watch. I’ll be viewing.
HOW
I’D BOOK IT:
  1. El
    Torito defeats Hornswoggle and takes his hair.
  2. Antonio
    Cesaro defeats Sheamus to win the United States Championship.
  3. Adam
    Rose defeats Jack Swagger.
  4. Bad
    News Barrett retains against Rob Van Dam.
  5. The
    Total Divas – perhaps even E itself – refuses to allow Brie to
    be fired, and Daniel Bryan refuses to abdicate.
  6. John
    Cena defeats Bray Wyatt, but does so with the Benoit/Raven 1998
    finish (Wyatt is knocked out but with a smile on his face – he
    unleashed the beast within Cena, even if he regretted it.)
  7. Paige
    retains against Alicia Fox by DQ.
  8. Shield
    defeat Evolution: Reigns pins Batista, Ambrose pins HHH, Orton pins
    Ambrose, Orton pins Rollins, Reigns pins Orton.
STATS:
MATCH
TIME: 43:18 over nine matches
BEST
MATCH: Rhodes/Evolution
WORST
MATCH: Eva/Summer
MVP
OF THE NIGHT: Antonio Cesaro
FINAL
SCORE: 5. Wasn’t happy about the Divas and McIntyre getting beaten,
but Cena/Wyatt and the brawl at the end keep it from being a purely
boring show. Still, two segments do not a show make, and there was
way too much that didn’t work – the Fox temper tantrum lasted about
three minutes longer than it should have, and JBL’s digs on Adam Rose
were annoying. So let’s split the difference.
Matt,
Tommy, and Scott are waiting in the wings! Brian, Logan, and Scott
will go old-school! Get ready! See you Sunday! Start whining now!