Joseph Hegarty: Monday Night Raw 21/10/13
Monday Night Raw came onto the airwaves this week to the sound of Motörhead, with Lemmy telling us to “Bow down to the king,” as Chief Operating Officer Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon entered the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, making their way down to the ring as the Big Show knocking out Raw General Manager Brad Maddox on Friday Night Smackdown was recapped on screen. “You’re just jealous!” Stephanie told the Memphis faithful as they booed her and her husband. She then went on to sell the Hell in the Cell pay-per-view to the live crowd and the viewer at home, listing the matches that had so far been booked as the fans cheered their favourites, booed John Cena and shouted “YES!” at the mention of Daniel Bryan’s name. McMahon then repeated Shawn Michael’s guarantee that a new WWE Champion will be crowned on Sunday; Triple H agrees with her, stating that the fans picked Shawn Michaels to be special guest referee because they trust him, and he trusts him too. The Big Show then appeared on the titantron screen, demanding to know what Triple H knew about trust with the lack of respect that he’s been showing the WWE roster since Summerslam. Meanwhile, Stephanie has left the ring and seems to be talking to staff at ringside, demanding they cut the Big Show video feed, which was a nice touch to add a little more realism to the segment. After a short back and forth between Big Show and Triple H, Stephanie returns to the ring counting down from five, telling Show he was about to be cut off and he duly was. Triple H declared that the show will go on and introduce United States Champion Dean Ambrose. However, it was not the announcement of “Sierra, Hotel, Indigo, Echo, Lima, Delta,” but the sound of violins that could be heard around the FedExForum as the WWE title challenger Daniel Bryan made his way to the ring.
As this week’s episode of Raw returned from its first commercial break, Ambrose had finally arrived to face Bryan in the ring. After the bell rang the two wrestlers locked into a collar and elbow tie up before transitioning into warring wrist locks. They then exchanged knife-edged chops before Daniel Bryan began to gain the upper hand in the contest as fans in the crowd chanted “YES!”. Bryan showcased the kind of mat-based offence that you rarely see in the WWE, before hitting a cracking dropkick on the recovering Ambrose. However, Bryan wasn’t as successful with his second dropkick attempt as his opponent dodged the attacking, leaving Bryan crumpled in the corner. It was now Ambrose who practiced a mat game on the downed former WWE Champion, before picking his opponent up for a short-arm clothesline and a snap suplex for a near fall. The next portion of the matchup unfortunately suffered a small botch, it wasn’t quite clear what they were attempting to pull off (perhaps a headscissor?) but it led to Bryan regaining control of the matchup, going on to hit a lovely snap underhook suplex. He then climbed to the top rope, seemingly preparing to deliver his Flying Goat diving head-butt, but Dean Ambrose rolls out of the ring looking for some respite which he doesn’t get as Bryan comes flying through the ropes with a baseball slide. However as we come back from a commercial break, Ambrose is back in control, hitting a backdrop on Daniel Bryan and locking a figure four chokehold on his downed opponent. The Submission Specialist managed to characteristically counter this manoeuvre into a surfboard stretch on Dean Ambrose before modifying the hold with a dragon sleeper. Although, this modification allowed Ambrose’s hand to become free, to which he used to his advantage illegally raking the eyes of Daniel Bryan. The United States Champion then placed Bryan on the top rope and delivered a breath-taking double underhook superplex for a very near fall. The two wrestlers get to their feet and both go for crossbodies on their opponents leaving both men back on the mat again.
As they both once again got to their feet, Daniel Bryan executed his signature comeback routine, backflipping off the top rope over Dean Ambrose, before delivering a crooked arm lariat on him. Bryan is on fire as he hits the running corner dropkick that he missed earlier in the match, before immediately taking Ambrose to the top rope for a frankensteiner that kept him down for a two count. The WWE Championship challenger attempted to keep his offence going with a tornado DDT off the ropes, however Ambrose powerfully shrugged him off before delivering a spinebuster for a nearfall. Ambrose couldn’t capitalise though as Bryan managed to throw him to the outside before hitting a suicide dive through the ropes to the US Champ. Daniel Bryan then brought his opponent back in the ring before hitting his signature missile front dropkick, kipping up and hitting multiple kicks, before Ambrose ducked his final roundhouse kick. The United States Champion then attempted to roll Daniel Bryan up with a schoolboy pinning combination, however the Submission Specialist was able to counter this maneuver himself into the YES! Lock, which Ambrose soon tapped out to. This was an enjoyable match with a particularly smooth finish, giving Daniel Bryan momentum going into his WWE Championship match this Sunday while not particularly taking away from Ambrose as a strong singles wrestler.
Our second focus point in this week’s Monday Night Four starts with Renee Young backstage presenting a recap of events on Smackdown which led to a Big E Langston babyface turn coming to the aid of CM Punk against Ryback and Curtis Axel. Returning from the recap, she interviews Paul Heyman live on Raw. Heyman delivered an enjoyable monologue, which I’d recommend you watch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EscFy7mX2Iw) rather than me regurgitate it. In reflection though the point of the promo was for Heyman to show how he and Ryback can win on Sunday because he doesn’t have the emotional weaknesses which he claims plague CM Punk. The other purpose of this backstage segment was to give Big E Langston a chance to continue his babyface turn by confronting Heyman and his guys, setting up a matchup later in the night between the former NXT Champion and Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel. Unsurprisingly, when this match came to pass, Langston was ambushed by Ryback as well as Axel. CM Punk joined the fray with a kendo stick, although before he could do too much damage with it the match was restarted as a tag team match pitting Ryback & Curtis Axel versus CM Punk & Big E Langston.
As Raw returned from the commercial break, the match had already begun and CM Punk was channeling his inner Dusty Rhodes/Colt Cabana with a Bionic Elbow from the second rope. He and Langston then utilised some nice tag team work, before Ryback and Axel manage to do the same to Punk, while the crowd chants his name. The middle portion of this match saw Punk bumping for Axel and Ryback with brief glimpses of a comeback coming from a corner springboard crossbody and small package reversal to a Ryback stalling vertical suplex. They built the heat for the inevitable Big E hot tag well, with Paul Heyman adding to it by taunting his former best friend, asking Punk to tag Heyman himself into the matchup to help him. Then of course the tag did come, with Big E delivering a huge flapjack to the onrushing Curtis Axel, before hitting his E-Train running body block on Ryback and then the Intercontinental Champion. Langston then won the contest for his team, by taking down Axel with his Big Ending finishing maneuver, while CM Punk kept Ryback at bay with a running calf kick. After the bell, CM Punk went straight after his arch nemesis, Heyman, chasing him into the crowd. Heyman fled and was nowhere to be seen, so the segment finish with Punk celebrating in the crowd with the fans who loudly chanted his name. It was announced later in the night that due to Big E Langston’s pinfall he will face Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Championship on the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view pre-show.
The third focus point of this week’s Monday Night Four is Raw’s last match of the night, a contest to determine the No.1 contenders’ for the WWE Tag Team Championships, pitting The Uso brothers versus Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns of The Shield. Additionally, the tag team champions themselves, who have a new mashed up entrance theme, join Jerry “The King” Lawler, Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield at the announcer’s table to commentate on the match. An Uso brother (Yes, I’m sorry I still can’t tell them apart) started off the match with Seth Rollins (I can tell him apart from Kaitlyn now because she’s gone brunette…) and the tempo of the match soon rises with Rollins being thrown to the outside and eating a plancha over the top rope from said Uso. Meanwhile, Goldust and particularly Cody Rhodes were entertaining on commentary, especially in making fun of heel color commentator, JBL, mockingly claiming if you built a liar from the ground up it would look like Layfield; parodying the line he oft uses to describe Randy Orton as the face of the WWE.
In the ring, Rollins regains control of the matchup as he dodges his opponent’s running crossbody attempt, leaving him tangled in the ring ropes. Next, the Rhodes brothers’ get closer to the action than they were anticipating as Jimmy (Thanks, Cole.) Uso is launched off the ring apron by Roman Reigns colliding with the announce table below. With Jimmy Uso back In the ring, he counters a Samoan Drop attempt from Reigns into a nice looking DDT and gets the hot tag from his brother, Jey. Roman Reigns attempts to hit Jey with one of his ferocious Spears, but the son of Rikishi athletically leapfrogs over him and hitting the former WWE tag team champion with a sharp superkick, before going up top for a Superfly Splash. Uso came flying down from the top rope, only for Reigns to raise his knees into the abdomen of his opponent. Meanwhile, at ringside Dean Ambrose has been trash talking the Rhodes brothers who’ve had enough of his mouth and rise from their seats at the announce table. Soon Rollins and Reigns join their fellow Shield member at ringside and chaos descends as the Uso brothers also join the fray. The referee ends the match in a No Contest, and the seven men brawl at ringside. The two sets of brothers bands together to send The Shield packing and the segment ends with the two teams regarding each other respectfully in the ring. Later in the night, a triple threat tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship is made for this Sunday at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, which could end up being a very fun match indeed.
The fourth and final focus of this week’s Monday Night Four aired in the main event spot of this week’s episode of Raw, featuring a contract signing for the WWE Championship match at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view this Sunday in Miami, Florida.
Stephanie McMahon and Triple H re-joined us to begin this segment, followed by entrance from Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, who HHH clapped to the ring. The Chief Operating Officer then got on the mic and introduced Shawn Michaels, who joined the four of them in the ring. Stephanie then told Randy Orton that as the face of the WWE he “had the floor” and handed him a microphone. Orton tells Daniel Bryan that he’ll give credit where credit is due, as every time he has beaten Bryan down he has got straight back up, but he tells Bryan that after their match in the Hell in a Cell structure, he will not be getting back up; promising that Daniel Bryan’s first match in the structure will be his last. The announcers also played with this idea, putting over the fact that Orton had competed in the Cell four times while Bryan had yet to have a match in the structure.
Daniel Bryan then takes his turn on the microphone, claiming he didn’t expect anything less than threats from Randy Orton (Well, yes Daniel, he is a wrestler…) but he advises his opponent on Sunday to remember that without the aid of Triple H, a crooked referee and The Shield then he’d already be WWE Champion. Triple H himself then speaks, comparing Bryan to wrestlers such as Chris Jericho, Edge and Rob Van Dam, who he claims had talent but were never “the one” (Billy Gunn?) and suggested that if either them had been “the one” in their heyday then the WWF would have lost the Monday Night Raw to WCW. Bryan is riled up and challenges Triple H to trade in his corporate suit for some wrestling gear. The Game puts Daniel Bryan down, declining and informing him that he only fights bonafide stars, like Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and The Rock. He then claims Shawn Michaels should never have wasted his time training Daniel Bryan. Michaels then chimes in declaring Bryan to be very good and definitely not a waste of time, before turning the spotlight back onto Triple H and echoing the kind of lines he’s used in the past along the lines of “Dude, what happened to you!?”
Orton then interjects, maniacally accusing Michaels of having an agenda against him, looking to “Hunter” for help, asking HBK what he has against him. Michaels turns the question on his best friend, asking him what he has against Daniel Bryan, and if it was that he had proved him wrong. I would’ve preferred Michaels to accuse Triple H of being scared that the spotlight had been taken away from him and onto Daniel Bryan, asking him if he hates Daniel Bryan because the people love him more than they love Triple H himself. But perhaps that would be a little too close to the truth. Tensions were rising and Daniel Bryan pushed aside the table in the middle of the ring, closing in on Orton. However, a black truck appeared on the titantron screen, which then drove into the arena. From out of the truck stepped The Big Show, who gestured to the crowd for the “YES!” chant. This distracts Orton, who turns around into a Busaiku Knee Kick from Bryan. He then leaves the ring to join the World’s Largest Athlete on the stage as they lead the crowd in a “YES!” chant to close the show. Judging by Triple H’s comments to Daniel Bryan in this segment it now seems like a lock that Daniel Bryan will be walking out of Hell in a Cell this Sunday with the WWE Championship.
Three matches this week compete for the accolade of LockUP’s Raw Match of the Night this week, two matches describes above which pitted Dean Ambrose versus Daniel Bryan and the WWE Tag Team Title’s No.1 Contenders match, as well as Randy Orton defeating Dolph Ziggler in an entertaining match that helped the title challenger stay on course, momentum wise, for this sunday and gave Dolph Ziggler a platform to show what a phenomenal performer he is in the squared circle (at the moment, another loss doesn’t really change his direction). I felt the most complete match was Daniel Bryan versus Dean Ambrose, so crown this the Match of the Night.
The rest of this week’s episode of Raw featured Santino Marella defeating Heath Slater in an Elvis Presley themed comedy match that disturbingly led to Jerry Lawler shaking his sixty-three year old pelvis, the Bella Twins defeated AJ Lee & Tamina Snuka setting up Brie’s title match with AJ this Sunday, the Wyatt Family defeated Kofi Kingston & The Miz, while the Real Americans defeated Tonnes of Funk with another Cesaro Swing. This was a decent show, which had a nice compromise of good in ring action while the main event spot being held by promo work and entertainment to sell the pay-per-view on Sunday.