Wrestling Review: WWE Raw (11/25/14)

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Daniel Bryan Triple H Stephanie McMahon

BEFORE THE SHOW:

  • If you need to catch up with last night’s Survivor Series, here’s my review. Here it is on the WWE Network.
  • If you want to check out more Raw reviews, do so here.
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Of course, the big news is Sting. Of course, there’s already a phenomenal video of him just hitting the ring. Of course, to see this, you’re going to have to get the network, chump. We’ve got fallout to get to. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are positively ecstatic that a regime that did nothing to them personally is out the door. John Bradshaw Layfield is bummed. The Authority’s music hits, and here we go. It’s actually kind of incredible that, on their way out the door, The Authority are still coming out to “Bow Down to the King.” Having desk jobs, I guess, is their punishment. Busted down from their beat, guns and badges turned in to the chief. They’re also on the cover of Muscle and Fitness because they’re muscular and fit, but this is hilarious because they’re no longer a power couple. Only one of them is still the principal owner of WWE and the other is still its COO. Again, man, it must suck to be the McMahons. The reaction to Stephanie and Triple H’s mere presence is phenomenal. When Stephanie mentions Sting, there’s a pop and a Sting chant, and Triple H looks at his wife like a sad, muscular puppy dog. There’s even a pop when she mentions that only John Cena can bring them back. Really, the mere fact that they love each other makes them great heels. Mick Foley once wrote that the best heels are those who believe what they’re saying, and it’s clear that Stephanie McMahon and Triple H really do. They love WWE. They love running it. And they know the fans in the audience want to see them lose and cry. And now that those fans are getting all of that, they’re going to air their grievances. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon exit playing the nuclear option, asserting that the WWE lasts maybe three weeks without them. That means Sting’s first night in the WWE will be his last. What will Sting do, then? What will any of us do? Are we happy now?

I am. And maybe that’s just because I love business Triple H, lecturing me about the choices he assumes that I made. I love that he calls The Authority “seemingly grotesque and incomprehensible.” It turns out that we were playing a zero-sum game: Whoever won at Surviver Series, we all lost. This is a career best promo from Triple H. And then DANIEL FUCKING BRYAN’s music hits. The arena goes insane for him, as they should, and poor Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have to stand there and take it as the man responsible for their greatest professional failure (before last night, at least), rubs it into their faces. Daniel Bryan could have shown up and done nothing but the “YES!” chant in Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s general direction and it would have been a great moment.

Daniel Bryan yes

As it turns out, Daniel Bryan is tonight’s General Manager of Raw, selected by John Cena. I guess he gets to make decisions, though he technically did not win that Survivor Series match. Still. I’ve been wondering why Daniel Bryan hasn’t been on television at all, and now here he is. The first thing he says is that it feels great to be in the ring again, and I 100% believe that. Daniel Bryan is here to decide the fate of Team Authority, at least on this night. He brings them out, so that the fans might voice their displeasure. Daniel Bryan claims not to be spiteful (historically not true), so he’s not going to strip anybody of their titles or punish them unfairly. He’s just going to book people in matches. He starts with Seth Rollins. He’s going to put him in a handicap match, 3-on-2, he and two men against John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Daniel Bryan looks to be having a genuinely good time. His mood is infectious. But Seth Rollins can’t catch Daniel Bryan fever. He’s still the future of the company, still has the Money in the Bank briefcase. He doubts he’ll be given fair partners. Daniel Bryan decides to give the option to the WWE Universe, via the app that you can download on your phones, if you’re that dedicated. The choices are as follows:

  1. Luke Harper and Mark Henry
  2. Mark Henry and Kane
  3. Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury

Obviously, the fans are going to choose Noble and Mercury. Which, excellent. Neither man has wrestled in forever, but both were good, solid hands deserving of a main event, and they’ve done surprisingly well as an updated take on the Pat Patterson/Gerald Brisco stooge routine from the Attitude Era. Rollins is concerned because they’re not real security. But Daniel Bryan doesn’t care. Life is unfair. Life goes on. There are other people to punish. Next is Kane. Daniel Bryan mentions ancient goddamn history, his old Team Hell No days with Kane, when they entered relationship therapy. It seems Kane has not remembered what he was taught by their therapist, Dr. Shelby. Daniel Bryan asks the fans if Kane should still be director of operations. They say no. Daniel Bryan strips Kane of his title, but understands that the economy is tough, and so gives his former partner a new title: Director of Food and Beverage. Kane has significant experience in this field.

Kane ravioli

No longer shall Kane be Corporate Kane. He is now Concessions Kane. I hope this is how they refer to him from now until he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Concessions Kane is given a tray of popcorn and hot dogs. Rusev eyes the tray like he wants some. Kane wanders off to sell his popcorn and hot dogs backstage. Where they already have free food. Now Daniel Bryan addresses Rusev. He thinks he should be more patriotic, since he is the United States champion. THERE IS NO SUPERSTAR MORE PATRIOTIC THAN RUSEV. But patriotism in WWE means America, goddammit, so Daniel Bryan gives Rusev two options:

  1. He can compete in a company-wide battle royal for the title. Every single WWE Superstar will be involved. Hopefully even the women. Hopefully Paige wins the title. This is the option you should choose, Rusev. Take on the world. Lose to Paige. Or…
  2. He can appear in the ring with an American flag in the background, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Never mind that Rusev was pretty much forced onto the team, he must be punished. Go with the battle royal, you glorious power bear. Daniel Bryan’s bearded brother is next. He won the Intercontinental Championship from Dolph Ziggler because Rollins and his security got involved, so Daniel Bryan wants him to defend the title. He will, against Dean Ambrose. Luke Harper doesn’t look too phased. Luke Harper is too strong to care. Last, Daniel Bryan addresses Mark Henry. Mark picks up to leave, but Daniel Bryan keeps him out there. A “big guy” asked him for a favor. He wanted some help avenging a WrestleMania loss two years ago. Two years is two-thousand years in terms of WWE. Daniel Bryan has a PhD in wrestling history, practically. That man was Ryback. Daniel Bryan calls Ryback THE RYBACK, and can have my heart forever. That match is happening next. Mark Henry threatens Daniel Bryan (which, goddamn, I love heel Mark Henry so much. He’s such a nice, genial dude in reality, but he is the absolute best strongman heel in WWE), but Ryback runs out. This opening segment was nearly thirty minutes long. Every minute was a delight. Yes.

Mark Henry

Ryback vs. Mark Henry: Before Mark Henry can make it to the ring to take out Daniel Bryan, Ryback’s music hits and he charges down the ramp to avenge his WrestleMania loss. Ryback comes out on fire, ramming Henry into the ring apron, the ring post, and finally the barricade. Mark Henry is obviously dazed by the time the bell rings, but he will try to fight off Ryback. He manages to shove Ryback away and knock him down, but he’s a wounded bull. Ryback hits Mark Henry with a spinebuster, the Meathook Clotheseline, and doesn’t even bother with the Shellshock. Winner: Ryback via pinfall. Grade: C

I’m in the minority, but I remember really liking Ryback and Mark Henry’s match at WrestleMania. So it’s a shame that Ryback’s “revenge” took all of three minutes. But his rebuild as the very popular Aggro Crag of muscles and airbrushed singlets continues unabated, and that’s fine, too. Mark Henry sells the match like he’s concussed, and continues to be amazing. Backstage, Stephanie McMahon apologizes to Vince McMahon, who claims not to be an angry man. He doesn’t want to hear any apologies. He’s disappointed that his family couldn’t beat insurmountable odds. Because he’s beaten those odds a million times. Again, that’s true. It’s amazing how many times Vince McMahon has beaten crazy odds, and amazing how many times he’s failed to beat them. Again, great heels speak their truth, and when Vince McMahon says that he’s never felt sorry a day in his life, he means it. He’s probably okay spending Thanksgiving with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, though. He’s not that evil.

Dean Ambrose Luke Harper

WWE Intercontinental Championship – Luke Harper (Champion) vs. Dean Ambrose: Luke Harper has such great presence. Maybe better than Bray Wyatt. He doesn’t speak much, but the way he gesticulates is enough. He backs Ambrose into a corner but misses with a haymaker. Ambrose catches him with a flurry, but Harper is so strong that one punch gains him the advantage. Harper claws at Ambrose’s face and knocks him around the ring with a series of strikes until Ambrose catches him off guard with a drop toe hold. After hitting him with a few forearms, Ambrose works Harper’s arm with a series of armbars. Harper escapes by grabbing Ambrose’s nose and twisting, but Ambrose still has the momentum. He hits Harper with a back elbow, and when Harper rolls out of the ring he follows by launching himself over the top rope and into the champion. Back from commercial, Luke Harper has Ambrose in a chinlock. Harper whips Ambrose into the corner and kicks him while he’s down. He does a European uppercut and continues to work Ambrose’s nose. Ambrose fires back with punches and kicks, though, until Harper catches the foot and uses it to swing Ambrose crashing down onto the mat, face first. Ambrose kicks out and gets gator rolled. He throws Ambrose out of the ring and uses his advantage to batter his challanger. He tries to throw Ambrose back into the ring, but just like last night Ambrose refuses to stay down. He rolls back out of the ring and nails Harper with a clothesline of his own. With Harper stunned, Ambrose gets back into the contest. He takes Harper down with a few checks, goes for a bulldog and gets shoved away. Harper tries to nail him but misses, and Ambrose gets a two count with a roll-up. He gets another two count with a clothesline. Harper is reeling, but he catches Ambrose with a headbutt while he’s on the apron and goes for a suplex to the outside. It doesn’t work. Ambrose ties him up in the ropes and hits his dropkick/guillotine leg drop combination, which rules and spikes Harper’s head into the mat. Another two count. Harper is out of it, though, so Ambrose punches and chops him to his heart’s content. When he charges at Harper again, the champion catches him with a black hole slam for a two. He goes for his powerbomb, but Ambrose gets out of it and executes a backslide for another near fall. Harper ends up getting Ambrose on the turnbuckle, stuns him, and follows him up for an attempt at a superplex. He can’t lift Ambrose, though. Ambrose headbutts Harper off the ropes then flies at him with his standing elbow drop for a two. Harper gets up and surprises his challenger with a superkick. Another near fall. Ambrose appears out of it, but he hits his rebound lariat to a good ovation and goes for the cover, but the champion kicks out again! Harper rolls out of the ring and retreives the Intercontinental Championship. He’s had enough. Ambrose catches him with a suicide dive, though, and Harper staggers back into the ring. Harper looks to be caught, as Ambrose has him for his Dirty Deeds double-arm DDT (seriously, not every finisher needs a stupid name), but Harper is resilient and shoves Ambrose off and into the referee. The ref takes umbrage with this, and that’s all she wrote. Winner: Dean Ambrose via disqualification. Grade: B

One of the benefits of not having the WWE Champion on every episode of Raw, SmackDown!, and Main Event is that every other championship seems more important in its absence. There have been some absolute battles over the United States Championship (some on the internet would call them “hoss fights,” but not me), and now the Intercontinental Championship seems to have regained its former stature as being an important title that people have really good matches for. This match teases at what Ambrose and Harper might be able to do later, when Ambrose clears his plate. Until then, it’s yet another Dean Ambrose match with a contrived finish, and that’s going to start leaving people feeling sour sooner or later. Harper boots Ambrose in the face and goes for his dive, but Ambrose cuts him off and goes under the ring for a chair. I don’t demand much in the way of realism from wrestling, but good God, start planting chairs in the crowd or something. Like, a stupid fan wandered off and Ambrose found his chair because he’s a lunatic! Instead, it looks like a multi-million dollar corporation doesn’t know where to put their extra chairs, and also hides garbage cans and kendo sticks under the ring for some reason. It’s 1990s in the worst way. Ambrose spikes Harper on the chair with the double-arm DDT, and this, due to symbolism, is how we’re building to the TLC match between Ambrose and Wyatt. The fans chant for a table, but Dean brings out a ladder. Then he brings out the table. JBL says there’s no need for it, and he’s right. Thankfully, Bray Wyatt is there to stop Dean from giving away spots from their match, and he assaults his opponent with Sister Abigail. He throws Ambrose over the announcer’s desk and buries him under chairs, steel and office alike. It’s a ridiculous visual, but ridiculous visuals are what you sometimes have to deal with when you’re building a feud between lunatics that’s meant to culminate in guaranteed violence on a PG show. It’s nice to see Wyatt doing something more to build his programs than just talking or appearing out of thin air.

A promo for the New Day plays, and, while they couldn’t have planned it this way, oh boy was it terrible timing. I’m not watching Raw live, but Big E., Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston continued their push towards redebuting while the grand jury was announcing their decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Fergusson, Missouri. Actually, considering that they were in St. Louis the night before, I can blame them a little. Zero people backstage knew what was going on while they pushed play on this weird minstrel show? None? Really? And they’re debuting next week? Oh boy. I really like Big E. and think Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are good, talented wrestlers, but this angle, no matter what its perception is right now, is a belated response to an article The Atlantic ran about racism in the WWE. And it debuts next week, seven days after the Ferguson trial, and will be one of three things:

  1. A trio of happy, smiling black dudes who’ve adopted preacher-man gimmicks for no reason beyond the fact that most of the writers the WWE employs are white, and this is their experience of blackness.
  2. A trio of angry, grumpy black dudes who are upset that society and their employer has kept them from moving up the social ladder. All of which is fair enough (especially when it comes to Kofi Kingston’s situation), but how is one supposed to read a group of angry black men (written by white men) on a wrestling show, when the words “angry” and “black” have historically united to mean “bad guy?”
  3. Aborted because somebody watches the news and figures, oh man, there’s no way this can be good. That’ll be the second time this stable is dismantled before it begins, and I’m not sure there’s any coming back from that given the weeks of promotion its been given.

Regardless of any three, WWE has been playing with black stereotypes since the inception of this angle and should have known better. I don’t know why I expect that from professional wrestling, but I do. Everybody should. It’s not hard to avoid making scummy culture.

Speaking of, Larry the Cable Guy comes out with his Jingle All the Way 2 co-star Santino Marella, who says that he misses us. He also hates our guts, since he’s here with Larry the Cable Guy, whose only claim to any kind of lasting fame is that he’s a CHUD who makes his money by selling rednecks a deplorable image of themselves. They plug their terrible movie and take their sweet fucking time to do it. They are interrupted by Stardust and Goldust. Thank you, Dusty Rhodes, for having children who can spare me from this garbage.

Damien Mizdow The Miz

WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The Miz and Damien Mizdow (Champions) vs. Goldust and Stardust: Damien Mizdow has fancy toy championship belts. God bless Damien Mizdow. The new WWE Tag Team Champions get a picture-in-picture promo (a great old gimmick that needs to make a regular return), and it’s great because Mizdow is great. The fans boo The Miz and cheer Mizdow, as they did last night. It’s all tremendous. Damien Mizdow gets announced as “Sandow,” which makes the announcers upset for some reason. Stardust and The Miz start the match off, so there’s a “WE WANT MIZDOW” chant immediately. Miz goes for a tag, but Stardust is able to stop it and tag his brother in. Goldust hits The Miz with an inverse atomic drop, and Mizdow comes in to perform the maneuver on himself. This distracts Goldust, who throws Mizdow out of the ring, and The Miz scores with a roll-up but only gets a two count. The Miz continues to press the advantage, but Goldust eventually takes over so Mizdow can continue to flop around. Goldust tags in Stardust and the two beat The Miz up in the corner. Stardust keeps clubbing at The Miz, and Mizdow keeps selling it, though he’s also trying to hang on in the corner so that The Miz can tag him in if needed. It’s the little things. Miz crawls to his corner, but Stardust is able to knock Mizdow off the apron. When we come back rom commercial, The Miz tags his stunt double in and does all of The Miz’s moves. A doctor checks on The Miz while Goldust distracts Mizdow, so the former champions take over on the men who beat them last night. Goldust has Mizdow in a chinlock, and Michael Cole is telling jokes while The Miz is getting checked for a concussion. That’s horrible, real or fake (in this instance fake). Goldust hits Mizdow with a spinebuster and gets a two while The Miz’s medical drama continues. The announcers talk about Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, which, okay, announcers are always talking about other stuff during the match, but again, you’re acting like one of the competitors in the match has a concussion. You pull out “Owen Voice” (the announcers speaking in low, serious tones to indicate that there’s been a “real,” significant injury in the pattern of the fall that killed Owen Hart) for trifling reasons all the time. How about pretending that The Miz matters, even if he doesn’t? Mizdow has nobody to tag out to, so he gets taken out with a gordbuster. The Miz might have a broken nose. Cole CONTINUES TO LAUGH AT THE MIZ’S MISFORTUNE, INSINUATING THAT HE’D RATHER GET SYMPATHY FROM THE DOCTOR THAN DEFEND HIS TITLE. Mizdow locks in the figure four leg lock, and it looks much better than the one Miz employs. Cole even mentions this, saying it’s “more effective.” And Mizdow didn’t even learn it from Ric Flair. Goldust breaks it up (no way he’s letting a Rhodes lose to the figure four), and Stardust continues to beat up on Mizdow. Miz, however, makes a blind tag just before Stardust takes Mizdow out, sneaks up and drills Stardust with the Skull Crushing Finale, and the referee gets to three before Goldust can come to the rescue. Cole is incensed that Miz stole Mizdow’s glory, even though that’s what Mizdow did last night. Winners: The Miz and Damien Mizdow via pinfall. Grade: B-

Concessions Kane works concessions backstage. He keeps a very clean concession stand.

Concessions Kane

Despite the fact that he is the Director of Food and Beverage, Concessions Kane has a manager. She’s heard that Concessions Kane likes to burn things. She says that he’s not burning things today and is to be kept away from the deep fryer. He’s on chip duty. Can he handle chips? If any chips go missing, Concessions Kane will have to pay for them. It’d be rad if this was some weird commentary on the way the working class is expected to keep the working class in line for crumbs, but really we’re just supposed to be laughing at Concessions Kane, which I am, because his face when he’s expected to deal with normal people is so good. If this were 2003, Concessions Kane would probably burn his manager alive. Since Concessions Kane is now Your Dad, Sad That He Was Laid Off From Work Kane, he just lets the angry teenager dress him down.

Rusev Lana Slaughter

In the ring, Rusev stands tall with his United States Championship. He has a decision to make: Take on the world, or say the Pledge. Lana says that this is not fair. I agree. There’s a genial midwestern type in the crowd holding an American flag, blocking the view of the people behind him. Lana asks what kind of country forces its will on people, WHICH IS A GOOD QUESTION TO ASK. Jerry Lawler acts like the answer is “Russia, HAW HAW,” which is also true, but glass houses, cast stones, etc. Rusev takes the microphone and speaks Russian. Nobody understands. Everybody is Steve Austin. So Rusev begins to speak our stupid language. He doesn’t care who is running Raw. He refuses to be brainwashed by dumb Americans. Rusev isn’t just the hero of the Russian Federation, he’s the champion of my universe. Rusev threatens to leave, but Daniel Bryan is watching. He says that if Rusev doesn’t say the pledge, he will send a referee and the entire roster. But he’ll give Rusev a second chance. He sends out Sgt. Slaughter to supervise, which is awesome because Sarge has a cameo suit-jacket and rad cartoon theme music. But Sgt. Slaughter is hardly the most patriotic person in the world: He turned his back on America for a shot at Hulk Hogan, if you recall. But he calls for the flag to be unfurled, and it happens. It looks less fresh than the Russian flag Rusev uses. Slaughter goes through his phlegmy routine and tries to teach Rusev the Pledge. Rusev refuses to do it. The crowd does. Then Lana does in the quietest, most timid voice. Sarge can’t hear her. Lana’s on the verge of tears. She’s tremendous. Rusev refuses to let Lana do it. RUSEV RUSEV RUSEV. He threatens Sarge, who does not back down. Sarge takes off his hat, and this brings out Jack Swagger, Real American. Swagger has a new, hilarious haircut since hte last time I’ve seen him. The flag and Sgt. Slaughter have given Swagger superpowers he didn’t have the last time Rusev crushed him, so he chases Rusev out of the ring. There will be no battle royal, I guess. Rip. Off.

Concessions Kane can’t figure out the cash register (he’s a Libertarian, so the concept of keying in taxes is probably destroying his mind). He starts giving away peanuts and chips and nachos and popcorn (which also goes against his Libertarian ideals). Santino and Larry the Cable Guy are there to ruin this. Concessions Kane manhandles Larry the Cable Guy’s hot dogs and sprays Santino with mustard before declaring himself a big fan of Larry, who wipes the mustard off of Santino and eats it. Concessions Kane, by declaring himself a big fan of Larry the Cable Guy, is automatically the #1 heel in the world.

Fandango

Justin Gabriel vs. Fandango (w/Rosa Mendes): They’re just running the re-debut from last night’s Survivor Series pre-show, because they assume nobody watches those things. Lillian Garcia calls Fandango “New and Improved,” as if he’s a fucking Shamwow. Rosa Mendes “dances” in the ring to some flamenco music, which is a real shame because Fandango’s old music ruled, and out he comes to do his new dance routine. He’s got new gear, too. Dude is still really intense about his dancing gimmick, which is the best part of the whole thing, but nobody cares because they can’t chant along to his music. Gabriel (who never gets to wrestle on Raw, so congratulations Justin Gabriel) gets in the ring and the two lock up. Gabriel goes off the ropes, but Fandango meets him with an elbow to the face. The fans chant Fandangos old music at him. Fandango assaults Gabriel in the corner and runs him into the turnbuckle. He’s just dominating the poor guy. Gabriel manages to get to the top rope though, which is where he makes his money, and hits Fandango with a flying… punch. Okay. He sprints to the other side of the ring and uses the ropes as a springboard for a clothesline. He kicks Fandango in the gut and runs at him, but Fandango clotheslines him. Gabriel makes the clothesline look particularly devastating. Outside the ring, Rosa Mendes gyrates. I guess violence makes her want to dance. Fair enough. Fandango suplexes Gabriel and turns it into a slam. The crowd starts chanting “CM PUNK.” At least it’s not during an AJ Lee match. Fandango climbs the ropes and leaps off the turnbuckle with his leg drop, which needs a name, and that’s it. Winner: Fandango via pinfall. Grade: C+

JBL asks Jerry Lawler what he thinks of Fandango, and Lawler says “I’m just looking at Rosa” because he is a shambling mound of human waste. They keep calling Fandango “New and Improved,” as if this is how you make somebody a worthwhile commodity. The synthesized trumpets in his new theme song are awful, and everybody except Fandango (who always tries really hard despite the cards he’s been dealt) should feel bad about this mess. They recap Big Show’s betrayal of Team Cena, speculating that he did it because he thought Team Cena was on its last legs. Big Show is backstage in a HUGE SUIT (YES!), bullying production members. I guess, rather than admit he made a mistake, he’s going full heel. Good. Big Show comes out with a shit-eating grin, giving everybody a huge thumbs up, and the children in the audience BOO HIM. THIS IS GREAT.

BIG SHOW BIG SUIT

That’s how you know everything went well in last night’s main event, when the live audience goes along with something that was questioned online. Big Show politely asks for the microphone and continues to mug for the camera. He even lets out a little chuckle before he starts. He wants to make sure that we’re still cool. Big Show knows what we’ve been saying about him on the internet. He thinks we think he’s a bad guy. But he’s not, guys. “I’m a human being,” he says. “A human being who made a mistake.” OH MAN THIS IS THE BEST BIG SHOW PROMO EVER. He’s really sad about what he did, guys. The Authority took his job and his house, and they made him knock Dusty Rhodes and Daniel Bryan out. HE DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN A GIANT. HE HAS A MEDICAL CONDITION THAT MAKES HIM FREAKISHLY LARGE AND POWERFUL. He has feelings and fears and a family. He’s about to cry. This is the best. Oh man. I want to give this Big Show a hug. Everything was going wrong for Team Cena last night. He knew the score. All of us would do the same. Again, great heels speak their truth. This is the Big Show’s truth, and it is logical and well thought out. It’s not the appropriate time to boo The Big Show, professional good person. But the fans keep booing him regardless. If he could go back to last night, knowing his job would have been safe, he would have stuck with Team Cena, dudes. HE SAYS WE OWE HIM A MULLIGAN. I AM WILLING TO GIVE IT. The arena chooses to chant “YOU SOLD OUT.” And Big Show gets angry. Big Show’s medical condition also makes his voice sound terrifying. love angry Big Show. He calls the people whispering rumors about him cowards and invites one out. The loquacious Erick Rowan is the man for this task. BIG SHOW CALLS HIM THE UPSIDE DOWN SHEAMUS. Big Show’s mad that John Cena doesn’t feel like addressing him, then makes fun of Rowan for being an adult who plays for toys. Big Show’s ring is made for men. Some of whom have legitimate medical conditions that make them freakishly large and powerful. Big Show threatens to hurt a man who is almost his size, and Rowan says he doesn’t like bullies. He hits Big Show with his rad spin kick, and Big Show wisely chooses to run away. Don’t mess up your suit, bro. Keep it fresh, and fight another day.

Seth Rollins is backstage, probably voting for literally anybody but Noble and Mercury to be his partner. They meet him in the back and say that they’re ready, that teaming with Rollins is going to be like Shield 2.0. Rollins loves his tiny buddies, but they’re tiny. I mean, they’re both former champions in WWE, but they’re not large, and that’s what matters. Dolph Ziggler comes into the room and says that he believes in Noble and Mercury and asked his 1.4 million Twitter followers to vote for them. For once, WWE’s constant social media push seems kinda natural. Noble and Mercury are pumped about this, but then they realize what’s up.

AJ Lee Brie Bella

Brie Bella (w/WWE Diva’s Champion Nikki Bella) vs. AJ Lee: For some reason, Brie is super pumped that her sister has the title, which she helped secure by sexually assaulting AJ Lee the night before. It’s her last day as a slave, but I guess she could do this forever. AJ Lee comes out and has a microphone. She congratulates Nikki on turning her life’s work (legitimizing a championship belt that’s shaped like a butterfly and festooned with designs that verge strongly on the vaginal) into an accessory. Lesbian jokes! Skank jokes! This is how we write women! CM Punk chants start up immediately when the bell rings, and AJ and Brie start brawling. AJ misses a baseball slide to the outside and decks Nikki. This lets Brie attack her from behind, nailing her in the back of the head with a forearm. In the ring, this is worth a two count. The camera and transition from a replay obscures something that I think is a DDT, and Brie starts working on AJ’s arm. Brie chokes AJ with the point of her knee against the ropes and continues to work the arm. Nikki cheers her sister on. AJ fights out of it, but Brie gains the advantage by continuing to work the arm. AJ gets a roll-up, but it’s only a one count (because her arm is weak, but who pays attention to these things?). She then catches Brie with a Thesz press and lays into her with a flurry of punches. Brie escapes to the corner, but gets splashed. AJ follows up with the Shining Wizard, but that doesn’t end it. Brie tries to get back into it, but AJ keeps fighting her off. Nikki snaps AJ’s arm over the ropes while the referee’s back is turned, and this allows Brie to roll AJ up for the win. Winner: Brie Bella via pinfall. Grade: C+

They’re not explaining this storyline, which is awful, but the Bellas work better as a heel tandem than they do as rivals, to be honest. AJ’s on the microphone again, upset that it took two Bellas to beat her. Two Bellas aren’t half the woman AJ is, however. While the Bellas respond by flaunting whatever it is that they’ve got, AJ delievers her pipe bomb: “Talent is not sexually transmitted.” Big response from the crowd, who are, of course, aware that Brie is married to Daniel Bryan and Nikki is dating John Cena. I like AJ Lee just fine, but I’m against angles that treat women like accessories to men or insinuate that they’ve only gotten anywhere because they’ve fucked their way to that spot. So, while I’m glad last night wasn’t, as rumored, AJ’s last night, if this is going to be a feud with legs, they’d better start doing something else, and fast.

Adam Rose and The Bunny vs. Tyson Kidd and Natalya: Larry the Cable Guy and Santino are on commentary. Adam Rose and The Bunny are wrestling. I. Want. To. Die. Adam Rose hates that The Bunny is dancing with Larry the Cable Guy, and I’m with Adam Rose. Larry the Cable Guy is concerned that The Bunny wants to fuck him. The Bunny starts the match against Tyson Kidd. I hope Natalya gets in, just so that we can have an intergender wrestling match on WWE television. Instead, we have Tyson Kidd, one of the best wrestlers on the roster, going through this routine where he can’t lock up with The Bunny, who is an amazing natural athlete and master of escapes. All of his dropkick bullshit from yesterday continues to be the gimmick. And then THE BUNNY GETS KICKED IN THE FACE. Thank God. Tyson abuses the stupid Bunny and tags Natalya in. This is what progress looks like in the WWE. Tyson is justifyably upset that his wife shows the Bunny some concern and tags himself in. So The Bunny takes over and tags out to Adam Rose, who takes Kidd to the mat and gets a two. The Bunny tries to heel it up and grab Kidd’s ankle, but he doesn’t realize that Kidd reversed the Irish whip and he accidentally grabs Rose. Kidd rolls up Rose, and this one, mercifully, is over. Winners: Tyson Kidd and Natalya via pinfall. Grade: F

The Bunny figures out that he screwed up and tries to apologize by pantomiming everything that just happened. End. This. Please. Ryback is walking around backstage, and he’s interviewed by Renee Young. She congratulates him on his victory, but he doesn’t care about his WrestleMania revenge because it’s almost Thanksgiving and he’s hungry. He looks for a good concession stand. The final New Day promo plays, bringing together Kofi, Big E., and Xavier Woods. Together they’re going to be stronger, be smarter, and fly higher. Again, there is almost no way this ends well. Sorry guys. Now that they’re all together, the three dance around like James Brown in front of their gospel choir. Big E. does a big cabbage patch. They debut next week. Concessions Kane is still struggling with everything when he hears Ryback say that he’s hungry. Kane approaches the counter. Ryback orders two cans of tuna fish, a protein shake with extra protein, and a big bag of beef jerky. They don’t have any of that, but Concessions Kane tries to make it up to The Big Guy by throwing a hot dog in his face. This doesn’t work. Ryback smashes Concessions Kane with the counter and sprays him with mustard. Kane tries to fight back by throwing a bucket of popcorn at Ryback, but he only responds to meat. He grabs a bag of peanuts and says that Concessions Kane forgot them. They should probably fire every writer.

Renee Young interviews John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Oh man, John Cena hasn’t been seen all show. It’s a new day, indeed. John Cena goes over the events of Survivor Series. Dolph Ziggler was the only guy left. Ziggler says that everything was on the line, but that he promised to survive. They needed a miracle, and that miracle was Sting. Cena is hyped about Sting, but gives Ziggler all due credit. Cena is all smiles, doing a rhyming nonsense promo. They keep putting over the voting app, but whatever. There’s nothing stopping Noble and Mercury from winning a vote against Kane, Mark Henry, and Luke Harper. John Cena and Dolph Ziggler come out, and we’re going to find out who they’re facing.

Dolph Ziggler and John Cena vs. Seth Rollins, Jamie Noble, and Joey Mercury: Daniel Bryan comes out to announce the results of the vote. He brings Seth Rollins out and brings out the drum roll. By a 93% vote, it’s former WWE Tag Team Champion Joey Mercury and former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Noble. Seth Rollins is none too pleased.

Seth Rollins disappointment

Over 300,000 people voted for them, which is actually pretty impressive. Mercury and Noble didn’t bring their gear, so they’ll be wrestling in their suits. Jamie Noble, who was once the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Champion, needs to be told to take his tie off in the ring. Michael Cole points out that Noble was Cruiserweight Champion a decade ago and that time has passed Noble and Mercury by. It never quite arrived. Noble shows no fear against John Cena and puts him in a headlock. Lawler mentions Andy Kaufman, which reminds me that he was once useful. Mercury comes in to attack Cena, but Cena shoots Noble into the ropes. Noble runs them, with Cena and Mercury doing drop downs. Eventually Cena rolls out of the way. Rollins, from the corner, groans about his partners. Mercury stands, colliding with a still-running Noble, and Cena lifts Mercury up for the Attitude Adjustment. Rollins gets in the ring and pulls him down, and the three regroup. I love that Rollins is a master of teamwork, even in new situations. After a commercial, Cena is compromised in Rollins’ corner. Jamie Noble gets back into the match and stomps away at the 15-time champion. Noble charges at Cena, who moves, and Noble crashes into the ring post. JBL claims Triple H paid Seal Team 6 to train Noble and Mercury. Where are those training videos? Mercury encourages his buddy to get to his corner and make the tag. Cena tags in Dolph Ziggler, though, and takes it to Jamie Noble. Clothesline, clothesline, splash, neckbreaker, big elbow drop, DDT—all of Dolph’s moves. Mercury breaks it up and is held up by the referee. This lets Rollins attack Ziggler and get into the match. Ziggler’s the face in peril now as Rollins is the architect of all evil heel garbage. Rollins pulls on Ziggler’s hair and tags Noble back into the match. He body slams Dolph Ziggler and hits him with a leg drop for two. He puts Ziggler in a chinlock. Ziggler comes back with a chinbreaker. Cena calls for the tag, but Ziggler goes for a Stinger splash and misses. Noble steps on Ziggler’s head and gets cocky, which lets Ziggler drill him with a dropkick. Noble taks Joey Mercury in. He goes for a back suplex, but Ziggler flips out of it and tags Cena in. Cena goes shoulderblock, shoulderblock, powerbomb, Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Rollins gets involved and stops the Attitude Adjustment again. He’s stuck between Cena and Ziggler, but Mercury and Noble get involved again and save Rollins. They, however, are not spared a Zig Zag and an Attitude Adjustment. Winners: John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Grade: B-

Cena and Ziggler invite Rollins back into the ring, but he declines. Daniel Bryan rushes him and hurls him back in against his will, and he is summarily superkicked and Attitude Adjusted. Daniel Bryan celebrates with John Cena and Dolph Ziggler… and then a MacBook’s instant messenger noise goes off, dimming the lights. It’s the Anonymous Raw General Manager. Michael Cole gets super hyped about this and goes to the podium to read it. He’ll be the General Manager next week, for Cyber Monday. That’s when things are cheap on the internet. The computer has a virus, and the fans sigh and groan. They should start a “FUCK OUR LIVES” chant, but they don’t.

Raw started out tremendously, but then became this weird, never-ending placeholder of a show. The main event, which was nice and goofy, should have served to further propel Dolph Ziggler, but it didn’t, and the crowd was so worn out that not even Daniel Bryan could get them going. I can’t blame them. Beyond Big Show’s promo, everything after Ambrose/Harper was dire and miserable. They didn’t quite squander my goodwill from last night, but as the show played off to Michael Cole smiling and a computer going crazy, I have to admit: They came pretty close.

Rating:

ghost starghost star

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