With Night of Champions less than two weeks away, the season premier of WWE Monday Night Raw brought out all the stops last night. Let’s take a look at the highlights of a show that started off with a cage match, featured Jerry Springer, and ended with a vicious beatdown of a fast-rising star.
Wyatt Finishes Off Jericho
Raw kicked off with a the rubber match in the Bray Wyatt/Chris Jericho feud, with both contestants doing battle inside of a Steel Cage. This was a great back and forth match that saw both competitors finally put on the show that most expected when this feud began a few months back. As we get further along in the match, it’s clear that Jericho will have a difficult time escaping the cage. Every time the Fozzy front man looks to make an escape, Harper and Rowan are there to deter him.
Later on in the match, Jericho climbs to the top of the cage to exit but sees Wyatt’s disciples circling below like sharks ready to attack. So Jericho gives the crowd a shrug and then takes things back to 2002 as he launches himself onto Wyatt from atop the cage.
Unfortunately for Jericho, he tweaks his knee on the landing and has a difficult time taking advantage of Wyatt being out in the middle of the ring. Jericho drags his injured knee towards the cage door before Wyatt grabs him and prevents Y2J from exiting the ring. Bray begins to pound away on Jericho’s injured knee before rolling over Chris and out the cage door for the win.
After the match, Wyatt continues to beat on Jericho. Bray slams Y2J into the steel steps before dragging him into the ring and hitting Sister Abigail. And thus, the Wyatt-Jericho feud is closed. I think.
Heyman Makes Cena Interesting
While WWE Champion Brock Lesnar was not in the building for Raw, the two other men embroiled in his feud made sure to push the Night of Champions main event’s momentum forward with some riveting promo work. Out came Paul Heyman, saying that if John Cena were in front of him he would tell him to his face that… HEY THAT’S JOHN CENA’S MUSIC!
Predictably, out comes Cena and here we go with another “I WON’T QUIT!” Cena promo.
But then they started talking, and shockingly, Cena delivered an awesome promo. Not so shockingly, it was carried by some unbelievable mic work from Paul Heyman. Brock Lesnar’s advocate called out Cena for continuing to stick to his ‘Hustle, Loyalty & Respect’ mantra while the fans continue to boo him and chant ‘Cena Sucks!’ night in and night out. Heyman says that he is there to give Cena the secret to beating Brock Lesnar. All Cena has to do is give in. Cena just has to snap on the fans, tell them to shut up, and finally give in, because that is the only way that Cena is beating Brock Lesnar.
This of course causes Cena to go into an impassioned promo about why he will never get in. Cena talks about the kids who finish their homework early to come to Raw and watch him. The dads who chant ‘Cena Sucks!’ but thank him after the show for being a role model to their kids. Cena talks about the soldier he met who credits Cena for getting him through losing his leg, and how damn proud he is that when sick kids are given one wish, they ask to meet John Cena.
Basically, Cena is telling us that he will never turn heel, but making it interesting as hell. What John wants us to know is that who we see on TV is who he is off-screen as well, and because of that, he’s never going to snap on the fans. Great job by Cena taking a subject we already know and making it something we wanted to hear more of. Cena lets Heyman know that his life is all about “Eat, Sleep, Be John Cena, Repeat” and that will never change.
We close things out with Cena letting Heyman know that next week he is coming for a fight. If Heyman can get Brock Lesnar to Raw, then Cena will fight him, if not Mr. Hustle, Loyalty and Respect will just have to settle for fighting Heyman. So of course, Cole announces later in the night that Brock Lesnar will be on Raw next week.
Raw Meets NXT’s Stars
By far the coolest moment of the night came in a surprise tag team match featuring four of NXT’s brightest stars. Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville teamed up to take on Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd in a match featuring all four competitors in this Thursday’s NXT Takeover 2 main event, which takes place only on the WWE Network for just $9.99!
(Side note: I could not have marked out over this match any more.)
For those not familiar with the NXT product, this was a peek into the future of the company. Specifically, some fans were introduced to NXT Champ Neville and NXT’s most popular wrestler in Zayn. Neville is a high-flying competitor who does things like this that you just don’t see in matches anywhere else.
Zayn is best known as the fan-favorite who just puts on incredible matches. His two out of three falls match with Cesaro last year is one of the best WWE has had in the past decade. Here’s just a taste of what you missed if you haven’t seen it.
Seriously, do yourself a favor and check it out.
The match itself was a quick showcase for the four up and coming WWE stars filled with some great spots. After Kidd and Breeze beat Zayn down for most of the match, Neville was brought in for the hot tag and we got some great highlights almost immediately. Neville particularly was a tornado of kicks and energy.
After Kidd broke up a near-fall, Zayn got involved and showed off his high-flying moves.
Back in the ring, Neville puts Breeze down in the corner and introduces fans to their new favorite finisher, the Corkscrew Shooting Star Press for the 1-2-3.
Seriously, everyone needs to watch NXT Takeover 2 this Thursday exclusively on the WWE Network for just $9.99!
Springer Tries to Solve the Bella Crisis
Time for your weekly terrible acting lesson from the Bella Twins, this time featuring none other than Jerry Springer! Seriously, even the King of day-time television couldn’t save this thing from being atrocious. But give WWE credit they sure know how to get some publicity.
FIrst out is Brie Bella who succeeds in making Springer look like he deserves an Emmy just for putting up with her acting. Bella has new intro music so now you can tell the sisters apart (if the umm, physical differences didn’t help you do that already). Brie calls Nikki classless and puts on an altogether horrible promo, seriously it was horrendous. Thankfully for all of our eardrums, out comes Nikki who says she was mistreated and Brie always took everything from her. No this isn’t a replay, it’s the same exact convo we’ve heard for the past four weeks folks.
Springer plays a video package full of free Total Divas promo that shows Brie constantly degrading Nikki and zzzzzzzzz.
Next up is some video of the Bella parents pleading with their daughters to stop fighting and figure things out. The segment continues to drag on and we are now introduced to JJ, the Bella twins brother who comes out in a kids-sized suit for some reason. JJ blames Nikki for all of the issues and things break down into a brawl, for the fourth straight week.
The Bellas, Spring, JJ and Stephanie McMahon are all dragged into the brawl. It’s ironic that this pretty much devolves into a gigantic crapfest, just like this storyline.
Oh and to top it all off, Springer (maybe) got injured in the segment. Moving on.
Rollins Is Money Against Sheamus
What happens when you put an ultra-physical brawler in the ring with a high-flyer known for taking some great bumps? You get an entertaining match that’s what.
We start off with Sheamus ready to put a beating on Rollins who keeps making his way out of the ring to figure things out. Once between the ropes, Rollins struggles to get anything going against the Celtic Warrior. As Sheamus continues to beat Rollins down, his Night of Champions opponent Cesaro makes his way ringside.
Rollins and Sheamus continue to go back and forth in a god match, but Sheamus fails to capitalize multiple times due to Cesaro distractions. The Swissman plays with Sheamus’ U.S. title, which is distraction enough for Rollins to hit the Curb Stomp and get the 1-2-3.
This wouldn’t be the last we’d hear from Mr. Money in the Bank though. After the match, Cesaro enters the ring and hits a Neutralizer on a prone Sheamus as the crowd half-heartedly boos. Thanks WWE creative, you’ve officially killed all of Cesaro’s post-Mania momentum.
The Authority Reigns Roman In
Earlier in the night, Randy Orton said that he wanted to make a statement on the Raw premier, and started things off by attacking an already injured Chris Jericho in the trainers room as staff checked on Y2J’s knee injury from earlier in the night. Orton promised that this was going to be a Raw season premier people will never forget.
Roman Reigns cuts a promo prior to their match in the back saying he has an antidote to the Viper’s venom, believe that. So yeah, three line promos for the company’s next big thing.
The match starts and there are haymakers everywhere as both men get going from the beginning. Reigns knocks Orton out of the ring and tries to take advantage, but Orton slams him into the steel steps and takes command of the match. We come back from the first commercial break to see Orton slamming Reigns’ head into the steel steps.
Randy spends about 10 minutes physically dominating the match before Reigns makes a comeback straight out of the John Cena handbook. Reigns hits a few big clothesline then a huge Samoan Drop for the near-fall, but Orton quickly kills his comeback with a slam of his own for the near-fall. Orton goes for his hanging DDT, only for Reigns to reverse it and follow up with his patented running kick from outside onto the apron.
Back in the ring, Reigns is all over Orton before going up top. Again, Orton recovers with a powerslam reversal for the near-fall. Reigns counters an RKO attempt with a Superman punch, which leads to Orton calling for back-up immediately. Out come Kane and Seth Rollins with a crew of WWE staff who immediately prepare the ring for the cage falling from above.
As the cage is lowering, Reigns somehow fights back from a 3 on 1 beating and tosses Kane and Rollins out of the ring. Rollins tries to get back into the ring and nearly gets crushed as the cage shuts with just Orton and Reigns locked inside.
Reigns begins to beat Orton down inside of the cage while Kane and Rollins look on trying to figure out how to get in for the save while completely ignoring the door that opens pretty easily. Anyways, Reigns hits a massive spear on Orton back in the ring and Kane finally realizes that there is a door he can open and heads that way distracting Reigns. Rollins climbs the cage and shows Jericho how you’re supposed to hit a cross body off the top of the cage.
WOW! Gotta love the crazy bumps these young guys are willing to take.
Kane finally figures out how to open the cage door (hint: pull the handle!) and now the Reigns beating is on. Kane viciously beats Reigns, slamming into the sides of the cage before hitting a chokeslam on the big man. Orton is back on his feet armed with a steel chair and evil thoughts, and he starts beating the living hell out of Reigns. Orton targets the ribs, then the back and continues hitting Reigns while letting him know that tonight is not his night, which obviously.
Orton then turns things over to Rollins who begins to yell at Reigns that he made the big man who he is and Reigns owes Rollins his entire career. Rollins then says he is going to destroy Reigns before hitting a Curb Stomp onto the chair.
Fittingly, the show closes with the Authority standing tall as Rollins’ music plays. While Orton and Kane got their turns looking strong, it was Rollins who really stood out in this segment. From the huge spot off the top of the cage, to the closing blow on Reigns, Mr. Money in the Bank was the closing segments star. Looks like WWE is all-in on the Rollins as a top heel push.
Paige and AJ Lee defeat Rosa Mendes and Natalya via pinfall
WWE furthers the Paige-AJ rivalry while also getting some air-time for Total Divas, it’s a win-win for the company. They’re all-in on this pseudo-sexual AJ/Paige rivalry, as evidenced by the two taking turns making out with teh Divas title. So yeah, WWE has no idea how to handle any Divas rivalries.
Ziggler Embarrasses the Miz
As is often the case with the WWE, the company took advantage of the celebrity nudes scandal that dominated the headlines last week by leaking their own celebrity photos. Intercontinental champ Dolph Ziggler came out and showd the crowd some embarrassing pictures of the Miz and Damien Sandow, which lead to the great embarrassed Miz face.
Ziggler eventually hit Sandow with a Zig Zag as Miz watched from the outside.
Star and Goldust defeat Los Matadores via pinfall
So Stardust and Goldust are going to keep acting odd but also be heel? I guess. The number one contenders for the tag-titles get a win over Los Matadores after an odd Uso promo. We need some new tag teams ASAP.
Adam Rose defeated Titus O’Neil via pinfall
This match was kind of depressing to watch. WWE decided that instead of pushing what should-be their next monster heel in Titus, or even giving Adam Rose some shine, they wanted to showcase the Bunny.
Seriously, the Bunny got the majority of the highlights.
I mean, sure whatever. At least now we can spend the next couple of weeks trying to figure out who the Bunny really is and maybe get a good surprise out of it. Or you know it just ends up being Zack Ryder or somebody we don’t care about. Sigh.