Video: Paige Ruins Charlotte’s Celebration, Cuts AJ Lee-esque Promo on Raw

During the celebration for Charlotte’s Divas Championship win on last night episode of Raw, Paige had enough of the theatrics and seemingly turned heel on her PCB-mates. Whether or not you considered it a “pipebomb” promo, it certainly had shades of AJ Lee’s anti-diva rant in it.

My one nitpick with how this all went down was Charlotte’s overreactions while Paige was talking, distracting from the promo. I know in real life that’s how it would go down but in the land of kayfabe the rule is generally to take turns doing the talking.

Either way, it’s nice to see this side of Paige. She plays the brat character so well and hopefully – once Charlotte is done with Nikki Bella – we quickly move into a Paige v. Charlotte program and the excellent matches that will follow.

7.20.15 Raw Highlights: Brock & Taker Brawl, Two Long Women’s Matches, Cena/Orton/Cesaro v. Rusev/Owens/Sheamus

Last night’s episode of Raw was a solid show. There were some notable moments, the main event was set for SummerSlam, and the show kept my attention for three whole hours, which is a saying a lot these days. Below are some video highlights and what you missed from the 7.20.15 airing.

The show opened with Undertaker’s explanation of his actions at Battleground, where he “rose from the ashes” and cost Brock Lesnar a WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory. I thought WWE missed an opportunity to be logical by excluding Lesnar’s attack on Kane as a reason for Undertaker seeking vengeance.

Charlotte and Brie Bella had a lengthy match, with Charlotte picking up the victory. WWE is going all-in on the new women’s movement and while we haven’t seen an NXT-level classic yet, the call-ups are doing a wonderful job so far.

After Paul Heyman spoke negatively of the Undertaker on behalf of Brock Lesnar, the Dead Man appeared in the ring and was ready to take it to the advocate. Then Brock Lesnar showed up and all hell broke loose. The in-ring brawl was really good, helped by the announcers high-tailing it out of there and letting the action speak for itself. Lesnar yelling, “I’ll kill you!” and Taker respinding with, “You’re going to have to!” was a great moment.

The brawl spilled backstage before “authorities” were finally able to pull Brock Lesnar away and zip-tie his hands. Triple H was then shown saying no charges would be pressed but Lesnar was cooling off.

With Undertaker and Brock Lesnar out of the building, Seth Rollins came to the ring to cut a promo. John Cena interrupted and was very angry that Rollins didn’t win all his matches fairly, because John Cena is the most noble man in wrestling history and hates evil doers. My guess is this leads to a match between the two at SummerSlam and I wouldn’t be shocked if Rollins loses the strap to SuperCena.

Our second lengthy women’s match of the night was a tag team bout featuring call-ups Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. Banks continues to carry herself like an absolute star and her Bank Statement finisher if one of the best there is right now. It looks very believable and she actually locks it in, unlike another notable submission performed by a guy mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The final match of the show was a six-man tag featuring John Cena, Cesaro and Randy Orton v. Rusev, Sheamus and Kevin Owens. owens and Sheamus both abandoned Rusev midway through the contest.The crowd was really hot for this match and popped huge for the finish, which saw Cena hit an AA on Rusev into a Cesaro swing, who then did a slingshot setup for Randy Orton to hit an RKO. The sequence was really good and it felt like a dark match or house show ending.

6.17.13 Raw recap: Christian returns, Henry tricks us all, and Lesnar attacks Punk during a great episode

brockpunkWhat an excellent episode of Monday Night Raw.

That’s all I kept thinking after the show went off the air. Full of memorable and storyline-advancing moments, this was easily the best Raw since the night after WrestleMania. I’ve broken down this week’s recap by bullet points of all the important events, of which there were many.

The return of Christian
Christian made his long anticipated return from injury, defeating Wade Barrett in a short match during the first hour. It’s great to have Christian back and I would expect him to be in one of the Money in the Bank matches.

Alberto Del Rio completes his heel turn
Del Rio cut a solidly heel promo to open the show, solidifying his turn coming off his match with Dolph Ziggler at Payback. Del Rio is so much better and more natural as a “bad guy.” Dolph Ziggler attacked Del Rio after his match with CM Punk, so it looks like we also saw the completion of Ziggler’s face turn. The one question I have is what happens with the Ziggler-AJ relationship now?

Antonio Cesaro is now aligned with Zeb Colter
With Jack Swagger still on the shelf and Antonio Cesaro floundering, it makes perfect sense to put him with Zeb Colter. Hopefully this means Cesaro will soon be back in the title picture and perhaps even the main event scene. I would expect, at least, that Cesaro will be in one of the Money in the Bank matches at the upcoming pay-per-view.

Mark Henry fakes his retirement then attacks John Cena
This segment was, as I said on Twitter last night, SO PERFECT. Even the smarmiest of marks had to believe that Mark Henry was really retiring. It was easily the best performance of his career as he had the crowd showing their love and he was even shedding tears. Talk about the ultimate of heel moves. This monster version of Mark Henry has been one of my favorite characters in quite some time and I’m looking forward to his match against Cena at Money in the Bank, even though there’s little chance Henry wins the title. It also likely means that the rumored Daniel Bryan v. Cena title match gets pushed back to SummerSlam.

Brock Lesnar returns and attacks CM Punk
This was pretty predictable, but the IWC doesn’t care about predictability when it’s what we want and seems like the right thing to do. A Paul Heyman v. CM Punk feud with Brock Lesnar as his heavy should really be great. Based on his last few opponents, we sometimes forget how truly good Lesnar is (or was, at least) in the ring and CM Punk will probably bring a great match out of him.

Everything else on Raw was either good or not bad enough to get upset about. WWE delivered a solid three hours of television coming off a solid three hours of pay-per-view programming, which is really an accomplishment.

4.15.13 Raw recap: After hot start, WWE puts the crowd to sleep and has all its singles champions lose

Last night’s episode of Raw was a perfectly acceptable program, except when compared to the excellent broadcast a week before it and without the benefit of that hot crowd it seemed pretty boring.

It’s unfair to expect what we got in New Jersey every week but Monday’s Raw, which started out great and had a very solid first hour and a half, went downhill fast. Still, though, storylines were advanced and we got a few setups for the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.

• The show started off with a solid 2-on-1 match with Randy Orton and Sheamus – or, the “Celtic Vipers,” as Michael Cole referred to them post-match – taking on Big Show, continuing their WrestleMania fallout. After Mark Henry speared Sheamus in the back, we were set up with a Celtic Vipers v. Mark Henry and Big Show match on Smackdown.

I thought immediately after Cole branded the team of Orton and Sheamus that they might be sticking together to be that new babyface tag team WWE is lacking behind Team Hell No. Or maybe we’re getting this Smackdown tag match as a setup to singles programs of Sheamus-Henry and Orton-Show instead.

• WWE did what they usually do and instead of letting the “Fandangoing craze” just be organic, they tried to force it down our throats. The Greenville crowd had zero interest in the gimmick. Give credit to Fandango for trying to bring them back in, but the audience just wasn’t having it.

It was especially awkward while Fandango was making his entrance and the announcers were explaining what a “viral hit” he had become and the crowd was completely silent. While I’m glad WWE didn’t just throw away everything that happened in New Jersey, they probably should have realized it would be hard to replicate that sort of atmosphere again.

• Dolph Ziggler also got very little reaction, which is scary since Vince McMahon tends to overreact based on one night. It’s also surprising, since Ziggler got a better reaction than that even as he was losing clean to Kofi Kingston for weeks before cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. I have no problem with Jack Swagger working his way into the Alberto Del Rio – Dolph Ziggler rematch. In fact, it makes sense, since Swagger made the claim on Smackdown that he softened up the champ and made it possible for Ziggler to cash in.

I wouldn’t have a problem with Ziggler losing – a week after winning the title – to Swagger either, since it does set up Swagger’s involvement in the match even more, if WWE didn’t constantly have its champions lose non-title matches on TV. There are plenty of other ways to get people involved in the title picture. Oh, how I miss the plain old Number One Contenders match.

• Speaking of which: Wade Barrett also lost a non-title match to R-Truth and Kaitlyn was pinned by one of the Bellas in a non-title contest. One champion lost his belt on the show and three other champions lost non-title matches.

• Antonio Cesaro dropping the United States Championship to Kofi Kingston was a questionable move, although it really shouldn’t be based on the way Cesaro has been booked lately. The match itself was great, though. Hopefully for Cesaro he’s onto something more meaningful now. That may be wishful thinking.

I wouldn’t be shocked if we see a Big E. Langston v. Kofi Kingston US Title match at some point with Langston winning the gold.

• CM Punk pulled a Shawn Michaels and “lost his smile.” Punk’s brief promo before walking out made sense, and perhaps he takes some time off to rehab his myriad injuries and comes back as a face again.

• I loved that Heath Slater called The Shield a “three-man cover band” during his promo. Brock Lesnar got a nice pop and roughed up 3MB, which brought out Paul Heyman to lay down the challenge to Triple H. Lesnar v. Trips at Extreme Rules in a steel cage match.

While the majority of the internet hates this, and it’s hard to argue that view, at least it will be the final chapter in the Triple H – Lesnar saga and hopefully will then allow Lesnar to move on to another program.

• The long Ryback pre-taped promo was a well done, old school segment but it definitely took the air out of the live crowd. The show didn’t really recover after that. All of Ryback’s talking points made sense, though, explaining that he was there to save John Cena when he needed it, but Cena was never there to help Ryback against The Shield.

It planted seeds that Cena might be aligned with The Shield, as far-fetched as that may be, until later in the show when The Shield attacked Cena and Ryback stood by without helping. It might be a reach to assume Ryback is aligned with The Shield and more likely that this was just done to build more tension between Cena and Ryback.

4.8.13 Raw Recap: WWE delivers an excellent episode full of memorable moments

zigglerWWE completely redeemed itself following a poorly received WrestleMania with an outstanding episode of Monday Night Raw. While I lamented that there was a lack of memorable moments Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, we got plenty of them Monday from the Izod Center.

Dolph Ziggler finally cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, an Undertaker/Kane/Daniel Bryan v. Shield match was set up, and Ryback shell-shocked John Cena to end the show. And lest we forget the raucous New Jersey crowd that made it all that much better.

• Dolph Ziggler’s cash-in was exquisitely done. I was thinking going into the match that the 2-on-1 Handicap scenario lent itself perfectly to a post-match beatdown and subsequent cash in, but WWE went about it a different way. The story they told was that Jack Swagger had injured Alberto Del Rio’s ankle after several Patriot Locks. When Ziggler’s music hit, the crowd erupted.

I must admit, though, for a moment I thought we’d get a swerve and Ziggler would either not get to cash it in, or he would lose. But the match itself was short and sweet, and well done. Del Rio fought back briefly but wasn’t able to overcome Ziggler.

• I’m surprised to see Undertaker sticking around after WrestleMania but I like the potential of a Taker, Kane and Daniel Bryan v. The Shield matchup. I just wonder how long they can do six-man tags for The Shield before they need to wrestle some singles matches. Although, it’s working, so why change it?

• I was confused why WWE had Miz win the Intercontinental Title on the WrestleMania pre-show and then lose it the following night, but it’s a minor nitpick. This match did more for Wade Barrett than anything in the last few months combined.

• The one time the crowd did get a bit annoying was during the Randy Orton – Sheamus match, when they were clearly more interested in putting themselves over than anything else, as evidenced by the “We Are Awesome” chants. No harm done, though, as the match itself was probably just a step in the setup of a Big Show-Sheamus-Randy Orton triple threat match at Extreme Rules.

• The John Cena – Mark Henry match felt rushed, probably due to time constraints, and the ending of Henry getting counted out so quickly was strange. But the end result was more important, with Ryback coming out, disposing of Henry then putting his hand out to help John Cena up. Then, after Cena joined Ryback in “Feed Me More” chants, he attacked Cena, delivering a hard clothesline and Shell Shock.

I’m not sure if it was meant to turn Ryback heel – which just wasn’t happening with last night’s crowd – or simply an “I don’t need friends, I’m just after the title” situation, but I like it either way. Ryback seems much more acceptable as a championship challenger now than he did against CM Punk, thanks to more TV time and his feud with Mark Henry.

• If WWE put this type of focus into every Raw, we’d have must-see TV each week. I’d like to say they had more time to come up with the program, but apparently they had to re-write a lot of it once The Rock got injured (or just took off and they came up with the injury as an excuse, depending on your theory.)

It’s unreasonable to expect this type of crowd reaction every week, but the better the product, the better the reactions will be.

This just doesn’t feel as special as it should: 4.1.13 Raw recap

The last Raw before WrestleMania probably didn’t sway a lot of people’s decision to purchase or not purchase the pay-per-view but WWE certainly tried to hype up each of ‘Mania’s big matches. As much as we’ve complained about the build to this year’s WrestleMania being lackluster, the real issue is probably the matches themselves not being all that thrilling. Basically, it’s hard to effectively build for something people don’t care much to see in the first place.

• WWE trotted out Shawn Michaels one more time – as is law when Triple H is wrestling a big match, apparently – and he announced he’ll be in Triple H’s corner for his ‘Mania match with Brock Lesnar. The first thing that comes to mind is Michaels somehow costs Triple H the match, but there would be no point in that happening unless Michaels has desires to return to the ring or to a larger role in WWE. Odds are he’ll be present to take a few bumps and help Triple H win, which would be one way to have Lesnar lose the match but maintain steam for any number of the rumored main event programs Lesnar is involved in coming up.

• We saw more of CM Punk mocking Paul Bearer to get under the skin of The Undertaker, this time with the assistance of Paul Heyman, who came out at the end of the program in full Bearer costume. WWE has done a good job making this storyline believably personal between Punk and Taker, but I continue to wonder what their plan was if Bearer hadn’t died.

• The Rock and John Cena were kept apart, which is smart since we saw Rock get the best of Cena last week and this is already a rematch many aren’t looking forward to. Cena was effective, if nonsensical at times, in his show-opening monologue. He is at his best when he’s intense and not trying to be “Nickelodeon” funny. My major nitpick with Cena’s stance, though, is that he continues to say everything he’s done was impossible to the naysayers, when – in reality – winning the Royal Rumble and beating CM Punk to face The Rock were all more than possible; they were inevitable.

The Rock was his usual, rambling self but he was also intense. Both men are trying their hardest to make this meaningful and different than their last WrestleMania match.

• We got a beatdown of Alberto Del Rio at the hands of Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger, as WWE is trying to get as much heat as possible on Swagger heading into the World Heavyweight Championship match. Nothing wrong with this segment, but suddenly the program that once felt the hottest and most controversial seems dull.

• Fandango again attacked Chris Jericho and, as crazy as it may be, this is one of the matches I’m most looking forward to at WrestleMania. Part of that is because Jericho takes pride in carrying people to great matches and we all know the ring work Fandango (a.k.a. Johnny Curtis) is capable of.
My problem with it – and this is basically beating a dead horse – was having Jericho beat Antonio Cesaro, even with the easy-way-out distraction of Fandango on the ramp. Complaining about WWE’s mishandling of the mid-card champions, at this point, is a fruitless endeavor, though.

• The rest of this show, as with most Raw broadcasts of late, just sort of felt… “there.” Nothing really great to linger in your memory, but nothing so bad that it made me want to change channels. The sad part is that these are supposed to be the best Raw episodes of the year. If these are the best, I dread what’s coming in the months after WrestleMania.

Some stray observations:

• JBL had some great lines on commentary last night and I’m looking forward to his contributions to the WrestleMania broadcast.

• Jerry Lawler’s jokes were next level corny and I felt bad for Michael Cole having to force fake laughter. JBL, to his credit, sat silently when Lawler told a stinker.

• The Washington, DC, crowd was really flat for most of the show, which is becoming a trend for Raw broadcasts lately. You can’t really blame them, though, since they haven’t been given a lot to be crazy about. It really hurt some of what were supposed to be the big moments, though, like when Paul Heyman came out dressed as Paul Bearer and CM Punk attacked Undertaker.

Well, that was weird: 3.18.13 Raw recap

pattersonThe highlight of Raw was the Primetime Players coming out during John Cena’s promo, with Titus O’Neil dressed in overalls with a fake afro, portraying the character “Pancake” Patterson.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Remember, we’re less than three weeks from WrestleMania, WWE’s Super Bowl, the biggest night of the year and the one the company builds towards for 12 months. And the best part of an otherwise lackluster show was a completely out of left field promo from Titus O’Neil.

• While many were “ZOMG Punk is the bestest!” during his CM Punk Titantron promo, that segment fell completely flat for me as well. First, Undertaker came out, barely portraying his character, and rambled through a lazy promo with no enthusiasm. Then we got CM Punk on the big screen, trying to toss the urn up and down to himself like a baseball with the charisma of Mike Adamle announcing. (Also, note to Twitter users: the thing you carry a dead person’s ashes in is not spelled “earn.”)

I’m not going to get into the argument of whether or not using Paul Bearer’s death so prominently in a storyline is morally right or wrong, but I just wonder what plan they had for this feud before Bearer died.

• We finalized three matches on last night’s episode of Raw and it still felt like nothing happened. The show was just… there. It certainly did not have that “WrestleMania-season” feel to it. It felt more like a pre-In Your House Raw than anything else.

• Instead of Ryback participating in the six-man tag match against The Shield, it was announced by Vickie Guerrero that Ryback would be facing Mark Henry at WrestleMania. That’s a great idea and a match we’ve all been wanting/expecting. The way they got there, though, just felt really forced and awkward.

In fact, the whole show felt thrown together at the last minute by a group writers who aren’t great even when given time to plan these things out.

• The seemingly inevitable Tag Team Championship match of Team Hell No v. Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston came to fruition, again in strange fashion. Some dissension was teased between Ziggler’s group, though, when Dolph clearly wanted no part of the tag team match, yet Big E. did and AJ Lee was the one who agreed to the bout.

This may be a reach but I wonder if WWE is setting up for a Dolph face turn, with Jack Swagger winning the title and then Ziggler cashing in. That’s an almost Vince Russo-ian idea, but we can always hope.

• The show closing segment with Triple H, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar was just plain bad. It managed to make me care even less about the match than I already did, which I didn’t think was possible. Heyman said something about Triple H’s wife and then Triple H went on an uncomfortable rampage for what felt like 30 minutes, ripping Heyman’s clothes off and then nearly stabbing him in the heart before finally tossing him out of the ring, bringing out Brock Lesnar. By the end of that tirade, Heyman was basically the babyface.

The No Holds Barred stipulation was obvious since pretty much all of Triple H’s matches in the last three years or so carry that stipulation and the added stip of Triple H’s career being on the line was just stupid. Basically if Triple H loses he wrestles one less match per year than he does now. They’re selling the match as the guy who came out of retirement for ONE MATCH ONLY~! is now scared of having to retire and go back to his posh office job where he runs the company.

• The one other bright spot was the triple threat Intercontinental Title Match between Wade Barrett, Chris Jericho and The Miz. The match was good and Barrett finally got a televised win. I’m wondering what’s next for these three men, though, with WrestleMania so close.

• Oh, and the Great Khali didn’t actually wrestle, which is always a plus.

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1.28.13 Raw recap: Brock Lesnar returns, Tensai dances in drag, and some Roulette stupidity

brockmcmahonI went into Monday’s Raw with hesitant anticipation, knowing that Raw Roulette episodes are generally among the worst of the year, and this one proved me right. However, there were some pretty notable developments which may not have been enough to save the show, but made me at least not regret watching. Is that a good thing?

– Brock Lesnar returned during the show closing segment, just before Vince McMahon could fire Paul Heyman after video footage revealed that Heyman had hired The Shield. The pop was tremendous when Lesnar’s music hit, even with WWE’s Twitter account spoiling his arrival at the arena. Lesnar delivered an F5 to the 67-year-old Chairman of the Board, likely setting up the Triple H – Lesnar rematch as HHH will seek to defend his father-in-law. While it seems like that will be a WrestleMania match, there is a chance WWE could book it for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. We can only hope.

– The reveal that Paul Heyman was the man behind The Shield leaves a few interesting possibilities as we move forward. Will CM Punk play it off like he didn’t know Heyman had hired The Shield? Will we see a stable with Punk, Lesnar, and The Shield?

– Chris Jericho, following his return at the Royal Rumble, also appeared on the broadcast, breaking out all of his old catchphrases to the delight of the crowd. Dolph Ziggler came out to interrupt, likely re-igniting their feud from the summer of 2012 and hopefully leading to a WrestleMania match between the two.

– The interaction between The Rock and CM Punk was very good and Rock is at his best in situations like these, when he’s more intense and less worried about getting his catchphrases out or trending on Twitter. CM Punk is pretty much always on-point but especially last night. He got a nice dig in on The Rock about not showing up for anything other than TV and PPVs but in a subtle way, and we eventually got a rematch booked between them at Elimination Chamber.

– John Cena tried to create suspense through another long, rambling promo – wherein he also buried the World Heavyweight Championship – before he finally announced he would challenge the WWE Champion at WrestleMania. Yawn.

– The rest of the show was pretty much as bad as you would expect a Raw Roulette to be. Tensai and Brodus Clay had a danceoff after they were supposed to have a lingerie pillow fight, which led to Tensai showing up in women’s undergarments. He then danced with some prodding from Jerry Lawler and Clay and the crowd actually got into it.

– We also got this disgusting display of WWE “comedy”: