Live from Birmingham, Alabama this is the Raw Deal for episode #1090. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
Raw opened with WWE Superstars and Divas standing on the stage together. Vince McMahon was there. He was standing beside Eva Marie and Nikki Bella. Some of the talents had Ultimate Warrior shirts on.
There was a video package focusing on the Ultimate Warrior's career with comments from Hulk Hogan, Triple H and Stephanie. They played audio from his Raw speech last week and showed a video of him at the Hall of Fame with his daughters. "The most awesome thing I will ever do is be your father." It's heartbreaking just to see that. "The spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever." A very touching tribute video.
They did the ten bell salute for the Ultimate Warrior as the camera focused in on different superstars and divas on the stage. Jerry Lawler said on the microphone that tonight we will celebrate the life of the Ultimate Warrior. Hunter led the roster in doing a "Warrior" chant and the fans in the arena joined in.
The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield. Cole said they'd show some Ultimate Warrior related videos during the show. The Usos vs. Orton & Batista coming up later. Also, there's a question of whether or not The Authority will answer what happened last week when The Shield and Daniel Bryan got the upper hand.
An eight man tourney for a shot at IC Title was announced: Henry vs. Cesaro, Van Dam vs. Del Rio, Sheamus vs. Swagger and Ziggler vs. Barrett. Van Dam vs. Del Rio is up after the break.
It was announced that the four matches in the IC Title #1 Contender tourney will take place during Raw.
Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio
Monkey flip by Del Rio and a cross body block for two. Cole mentioned RVD was a high flyer - key word being high. Del Rio got some offense in with a kick to the head, but RVD was able to send him outside the ring. Del Rio with a clothesline outside the ring and he tossed RVD into the barricade at ringside. They went to break a couple of minutes into the match.
Back from break, Del Rio was still in control with a DDT for two. RVD hit a weak kick. Del Rio hit the Back Stabber for two. Del Rio jumped off the top rope for some reason, which RVD countered by kicking him in the jaw. RVD went up top, but Del Rio tripped him up and hit him with an enziguiri kick to the back of the head. RVD rolled him up using his legs, which was good for a two count. RVD tripped up Del Rio by the ropes again. RVD went up top and hit a Five Star Frog Splash for the win after about 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Rob Van Dam
Analysis: ** A solid TV match from two veterans who hit all their key spots and built to an entertaining finish. Del Rio has really fallen in the last six months from a guy that was World Champion to losing in the first round of a tourney like this. RVD winning makes sense because the crowd loves the guy and always will.
RVD faces the winner of Henry vs. Cesaro in the tournament.
Michael Cole announced Daniel Bryan wasn't there because he was on his honeymoon with Brie Bella. They got married last Friday. It's nice that they gave him time off although as a fan I'll certainly miss him. It will be the second time he misses Raw in four weeks (he missed it in Brooklyn too).
They showed a video package from what happened last week when Triple H, Batista and Orton were confronted by The Shield. In the office, Triple H and Stephanie were met by Orton and Batista. They all shook hands.
Ultimate Warrior Moment: They showed a clip from SummerSlam 1988 when Ultimate Warrior beat Honky Tonk Man for the IC Title. Huge pop for that. Crowd went wild for that title change. Warrior had unmatched intensity and it showed in that clip.
Back in the office, Triple H gave a speech to Orton and Batista. He mentioned Bryan wasn't there. He spoke about how they had to deal with The Shield and that he reminded him of them. Hunter didn't know if anybody could stop them. Stephanie said she knew guys that could do it and she was looking at them. Hunter reiterated that nobody can stop them if they were on the same page. Batista and Orton both didn't care to help Hunter. All they cared about was the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. They told Hunter he was on his own.
Analysis: Last week it looked like Evolution was back together for a common cause. Now it doesn't seem to be that way. It could all be a ploy, though. Plenty of show left.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel
The Rhodes Brothers were in control early on with some quick tags as Goldust hit a knee to the face of Axel and an uppercut, but Ryback distracted Goldy so the heels took over. Corner clothesline by Ryback. Plenty of quick tags by the heel team kept Goldust in their corner. Back elbow by Goldust off the middle rope led to the hot tag to Cody. Cody was on fire and hit a moonsault on Ryback sort of. It didn't connect that well. Cody hit a dive off the top rope onto Ryback outside the ring. In the ring, missile dropkick by Rhodes. Axel broke up the pin. Goldust tried to save his brother, but he got sent outside and then Axel was sent to the floor too. Cody went for a Disaster Kick on Ryback. Ryback countered with a clothesline while Cody was in the air and that was enough for the pinfall after 7 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Ryback & Curtis Axel
Analysis: *1/2 The crowd didn't seem to care about it too much until Cody's hot tag, which is understandable. It was done to put over the heels. Cole pushed the idea that Rybaxel have done well of late, so perhaps they're lining them up as tag title contenders.
The announcers talked about WWE Network as they plugged shows that were available. An ad aired for Legends House.
There was a video from Bo Dallas telling us to Bolieve.
New Divas Champ Paige made her entrance, which led to a video of last week when she won the title from AJ Lee.
Paige vs. Alicia Fox
Paige got a headbutt early. Fox hit her with a couple of backbreakers. She was trash talking as an aggressive heel. Northern Lights suplex by Fox. This match has gone three minutes, which is longer than most divas matches on Raw. Sad to say that is true. Paige nailed her with a kick to the stomach. Three clotheslines by Paige followed by a dropkick. Paige applied her Scorpion Cross Lock submission for the submission win after five minutes.
Winner by submission: Paige
Analysis: *1/2 That was predictable booking because they need to build Paige up as a credible Divas Champion taking on all comers. Paige's offense when she fired up looked strong. Crowd got behind her too, so that's a great sign. Good to see a divas match getting five minutes. More of that please.
Batista and Orton vs. The Usos up next at the top of hour two.
The Usos made their entrance. They had Ultimate Warrior shirts on as well as face paint. Randy Orton entered first for his team followed by Batista.
The Usos vs. Randy Orton and Batista
This is a non-title match. Usos were aggressive early on, showing that they were ready unlike last week. Orton hit a backbreaker to gain control for his team. Batista hit a suplex and tagged in Orton as they worked over Jey in the center of the ring. Spinebuster by Batista for two. Samoan Drop by Jey led to Orton making the save. Orton went after Jimmy by throwing him into objects at ringside. The Shield showed up and attacked Orton. Ref rang the bell so the match was over after four minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
The Shield threw Orton into the barricade at ringside. Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins surrounded Batista. He tried to fight them off, but Reigns nailed him with a Superman Punch. Orton grabbed Batista and they left. Crowd was really happy to see The Shield.
Analysis: That's another non-match between the Usos and the Orton/Batista team, but that's okay. Once The Shield showed up, the crowd went wild for them. Earlier in the show Orton and Batista said they had no issue with The Shield, but now they do. This angle is being built up slowly. I like how they're doing it.
Up next is Cesaro vs. Mark Henry.
Ultimate Warrior Moment: They showed a clip of Warrior's most famous match as he beat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 6. Huge matchup and such a big deal for him to beat Hogan clean for the WWE Title.
Randy Orton and Batista were shown walking backstage. They went up to Hunter and Stephanie. Hunter said something like "told ya" and walked away.
The great Paul Heyman introduced himself to us as the advocate of the conqueror of The Streak, Brock Lesnar. He mentioned it several times in an annoying manner. "My client Brock Lesnar conquered The Streak." Heyman showed us some historical photographs from Lesnar's win over Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 eight days ago. Heyman says the loss to Lesnar has immortalized Undertaker. Heyman transitioned that to his new client Cesaro. No theme song for Cesaro yet.
Cesaro (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Mark Henry
Henry trash talked Heyman as the bell rang. Cesaro was aggressive early on with a nice running uppercut to the jaw. Clothesline by Henry. Cesaro went after the left arm of Henry and then hit an uppercut off the middle rope. Cesaro hit a Neutralizer on Henry for the win after three minutes. Very impressive move.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Analysis: * It looked like Cesaro was going face after WrestleMania, but putting Heyman with him likely makes him a heel. Plus, they booked him against a face on both Smackdown and Raw. As for Henry, he's at a point in his career where he's going to be jobbing to the younger guys on a regular basis.
They showed Big E watching that match backstage while Cesaro celebrated with Heyman. They really need to get him a theme song.
The video where WWE thanks the fans aired next. Yes WWE, we know you love our money. You're welcome.
Backstage, Triple H and Stephanie told Raw GM Brad Maddox (remember him?) to let The Shield know they're in a six man tag in the main event. He didn't say who they're against, though.
The Ravishing Russian Lana introduced Alexander Rusev. She was in a red suit this week instead of the usual black.
Alexander Rusev (w/Lana) vs. Xavier Woods
Rusev hit a couple of moves including a Powerslam. Camel Clutch by Rusev. Woods tapped out. It was less than one minute.
Winner by submission: Alexander Rusev
After the match, R-Truth tried to attack. At first Lana made Rusev back away, but then he nailed Truth with a kick that knocked him down.
Analysis: Another dominant win by Rusev. Very short match. They're trying to build him up as a man that doesn't take long to finish off opponents.
Sheamus vs. Swagger up next in the IC Title #1 Contender tourney.
Ultimate Warrior Moment: They showed the steel cage match from SummerSlam 1990 with Warrior defending the World Title against Rick Rude. That's one of his better matches. Warrior won by escaping the cage.
They aired a clip of the Daniel Bryan documentary that's been airing on WWE Network. I've seen it. Loved it. Really well done and amazing that they got it done so quickly after WrestleMania too.
Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
This is the third of four matches in the IC Title #1 Contender tourney. Colter distracted Sheamus when he was on offense, so Swagger slammed Sheamus outside the ring. Clothesline by Swagger for two. Very slow pace to this match as Sheamus hit a clothesline and a shoulderblock followed by a knee lift. Sheamus hit his ten clubbing blows to the chest of Swagger and then a shoulderblock off the top rope. Swagger avoided a shoulder tackle, which led to Swagger applying the Patriot Lock in the middle of the ring. Sheamus kicked him away. Swagger knocked him out of the ring with a shoulder block. Swagger went after the knee of Sheamus by slamming him into the steel steps. He sent Sheamus back into the ring. Then Swagger went running into the ring, so Sheamus nailed him with a Brogue Kick with his good right leg to knock out Swagger. Sheamus covered for the win after 6 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Sheamus faces the winner of Ziggler vs. Barrett. Cesaro vs. RVD is the other semifinal match.
Analysis: *1/2 Sheamus was the obvious winner of this match. He's the bigger star, so of course he got the win. They told a good story in the match with Swagger working on the leg and Sheamus able to get the win with the Brogue Kick out of nowhere.
There was a video package for Adam Rose and the Exotic Express.
Damien Sandow was in the ring talking about how he's the most deserving person in WWE and he said he wasn't finished talking as Big Show's music started. Sandow kept talking during Show's entrance by saying he wasn't going to be silenced by anybody.
Sandow said we're going to listen to what he had to say. Sandow wondered why he was getting booed while Show was getting cheered. Every time he walks down the ramp we should be begging to touch him with our arms stretched out. Sandow said he deserved it and that he's earned it. Sandow wondered what Show had to say about it. Show said nothing. Sandow: "I deserve it and there is no one that can say I do not deserve it." He told Show that deep down he knows he's telling the truth. Sandow said when Show looked at him he sees greatness.
Big Show had enough and he knocked out Sandow with the KO Punch. He left. That was it. No match.
Analysis: It was nice to see Sandow get some promo time, but it's a shame that he's not even good enough to be in the IC Title tourney. Show knocking him out was predictable. Not sure if this is going to be a feud or if it was just a way to fill up five minutes.
Bray Wyatt showed up on the screen to say "we're next" as we approached the top of hour three in the show.
Bray Wyatt entered the arena along with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Wyatt said he was different. When we hear silence, he hears symphony. Wyatt claimed that he was a "seducer, accuser, destroyer" and he has never lied to us. Wyatt mentioned that Cena's a liar. He told the kids that he's not going to let Cena do it anymore because he's got Cena where he wants him - against the ropes where he just needs a little push. Wyatt didn't want to slay the monster right now. He called Cena to the ring.
John Cena's music started up and he showed up on the ramp with microphone in hand. Cena said "last thing I need is another push - nobody wants to see that." Funny line. Cena went into comedy mode as he made fun of Wyatt, Harper and Rowan. He said "Roll Tide" to suck up to the Alabama football fans in the house. Cena mentioned how the people wanted to have fun.
Cena wondered if Sister Abigail was real, he went on the Google machine and found her on the Myspace. There was a picture of Bray Wyatt in full beard dressed like a woman. He mentioned "Bobby Jo Wyatt" as well and it was Luke Harper's face on a woman's body. Cena got a TMZ photo of a baby girl Chastity Lynn Wyatt, which was Erick Rowan's face on a baby's body.
Wyatt sarcastically said Cena was hysterical and that he loved how Cena made jokes when a serious threat got in his face. Cena turned into serious mode when he said that Wyatt found out at WrestleMania that when Cena gets serious he gets his (Wyatt) ass beat. Cena mentioned how Wyatt talked a lot, but without his family he can't back up what he claims. Cena challenged Wyatt to a Steel Cage Match at Extreme Rules. Wyatt loved it. He said it was his world and it belongs to him. Singing time by Wyatt: "He's got the whole world in his hands, he's got the whole wide world in his hands." I guess the challenge has been accepted.
Analysis: Cena's comedy was pretty bad in that segment. They love the Photoshop comedy bit. It's something they go to every couple of months. However, once he turned to serious Cena it got a lot better. He's really awesome when he does the serious promos. Wyatt's promo was really good like usual. He has such a unique style that allows him to stand out. A Steel Cage match is interesting. Perhaps Wyatt will get his win back, so that the feud could extend for another month. If Cena wins it would be disappointing.
Shield vs. ??? up later.
Fandango entered with his new dance partner Layla for a match against Santino and Emma. Then they showed a series of tweets between Fandango and Summer Rae. In a pre-tape, Fandango said it wasn't him, it was her. That's the George Costanza line!
Fandango & Layla vs. Santino & Emma
Santino with an arm drag on Fandango. Layla tagged in, so Emma went after her and applied the Dilemma (Tarantula) to wear down Layla. Santino knocked Fandango off the apron. Emma was on the middle rope, Layla yanked her down and covered. The match went about one minute.
Winners by pinfall: Fandango & Layla
Analysis: That was pretty bad, but I guess they had to put over the new couple.
In the office, Stephanie McMahon talked to Kane about the poor job he's done as Director of Operations. She called him weak and pathetic. Stephanie mentioned that he used to be a monster. She wondered what happened to the devil's favorite demon. He tossed aside a chair as he got fired up in her face. Kane looked at his old mask, which was in a glass box. He opened up the box and grabbed the mask. He said he's going to eviscerate Daniel Bryan and send him to the depths of hell. Stephanie smiled.
Analysis: Based off that promo, it would seem like they're going to go with Bryan vs. Kane at Extreme Rules while The Should would face off with the trio of Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton. It's not official yet, but it makes sense because Kane's a guy that Bryan can go over in his first major title defense.
There was another Bo Dallas video telling us to Bolieve.
The announcers mentioned how on WWE Network this week there would be shows dedicated to Ultimate Warrior. Then they showed a part of Warrior's promo from last week on Raw. They showed a favorite quote from Warrior also.
The Shield in the main event later and Ziggler vs. Barrett up next. Ziggler made his entrance before the break. He was in an Ultimate Warrior shirt.
Adam Rose was on his party bus again. They were playing the Hungry Hungry Hippos game. He's coming soon.
Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler
This is the final of four first round matches in the IC Title #1 Contender tourney. Barrett dominated the early part of the match. Ziggler came back with a dropkick followed by a clothesline that sent both guys over the top to the floor. Barrett sent Ziggler head first into the steel post. That led to the vintage floor to commercial break.
Back from break, fans were getting bored so they chanted "CM Punk" during this match. Ziggler connected on several punches in the corner followed by a neckbreaker for two. Barrett came back with Wasteland for two. Ziggler came back with a Fameasser for two of his own. Ziggler missed an attack in the corner, but then he came back by hitting an X-Factor (face first slam) off the top rope for two. Barrett hit Winds of Change (Bossman Slam) for two. Some really good nearfalls here. Ziggler ducked the Bull Hammer elbow and got a rollup for two. Barrett shoved him away, then connected with the Bull Hammer and that was enough for the win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bad News Barrett
Post match, Barrett said he has some bad news. He said he's the next Intercontinental Champion. Apparently that was the bad news he wanted to share.
Analysis: *** Best match on the show so far. Fans weren't into it early, but they got them interested with a lot of entertaining nearfalls. Since both guys have a lot of moves that are believable as finishes they were able to get the crowd to care. It's not like they usually win with those moves. They're credible enough to get the job done, though. It was an entertaining back and forth matchup that this show really needed. A shame that Ziggler isn't pushed stronger, but by this point we're just used to it.
The semifinals in the #1 contender for the IC Title tourney are Cesaro vs. RVD and Barrett vs. Sheamus. I think Cesaro is going to win the tourney although I wouldn't mind if it was Barrett.
There was a video package about Kane in the mask as they mentioned that when Daniel Bryan comes back next week he'll have to deal with this. It was an evil Kane video. Even Zack Ryder made it in the video from when Kane shoved him off the stage in a wheelchair. Good memories.
The Shield's main event match is up next.
This week on Smackdown it's Sheamus vs. Batista
The Shield made their entrance by entering through the crowd like usual. They had on masks to cover their mouths. They were cheered. Time check is 10:57pmET so there's not a lot of time to have a long match.
Opponents for The Shield made their entrances: Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Fandango, 3MB, Titus O'Neil, Ryback, Curtis Axel, Alexander Rusev and Bad News Barrett. It's 11 on 3.
The Shield vs. Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Fandango, 3MB, Titus O'Neil, Ryback, Curtis Axel, Alexander Rusev and Bad News Barrett
Congrats to Jinder Mahal for main eventing Raw. Don't hinder Jinder! The heels made a lot of quick tags as they worked over Rollins in their corner. Reigns hit a Spear and then a big brawl took place. The "match" went about three minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
Rollins hit a somersault dive over the top to the floor to take out everybody that was outside the ring. All the heels worked together to attack The Shield individually so The Shield's guys weren't able to help each other.
The theme song of Evolution started up as Triple H entered along with Randy Orton and Batista. Love that song. Been a long time since we've heard it. Hunter ordered everybody out of the ring.
Evolution attacked the fallen Shield members by going after Rollins first. Reigns tried to save his buddy, but that didn't work as Orton hit a RKO on Reigns. Batista hit a Batista Bomb on Reigns. Orton with the RKO on Rollins. Fans were chanting "yes" for this even though Bryan wasn't there. Batista Bomb on Rollins. Batista hit a Batista Bomb on Ambrose leading to Orton hitting a neckbreaker (reverse RKO) on Ambrose on the way down.
Triple H grabbed a microphone as Evolution stood together over the three Shield members. Triple H told Reigns: "Believe in Evolution." Hunter hit the Pedigree on Reigns. Then he raised the arms of Orton and Batista as the Evolution theme song played again. Raw ended with Evolution standing together to end the show.
Analysis: Really good angle right there. I have no gripes at all. They made it really unfair for The Shield, built up the return of Evolution for the entire show with all the little backstage segments they did and it made a lot of sense when they came out together. The dominant finish puts them in a strong position as they head to a showdown with The Shield.
It looks like top matches at WWE Extreme Rules are:
The Shield vs. Evolution
Bryan vs. Kane - Bryan may not main event the show. Similar to CM Punk's WWE Title reign if that happens. Cue the complainers lol. Kane is a guy for Bryan to beat. I don't mind it.
Cena vs. Wyatt in a Steel Cage
Big E vs. Cesaro/Barrett/RVD/Sheamus for IC Title. Likely Cesaro. Maybe Barrett.
It's a solid lineup. I'm looking forward to it.
Three Stars of the Show
Just one. The Ultimate Warrior. Rest in peace, Warrior. Thank you for all that you did in your career and for the inspiring message on Raw last week. Best wishes to your loved ones, especially your two daughters and your wife.
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 9
2014 Average: 6.75
2014 High: 9 (April 7)
2014 Low: 5 (February 3)
Last 5 Weeks: 9, NR, 6, 7, 8
It was a decent show. There was nothing really special about it except the finish.
I missed seeing Daniel Bryan although it's understandable that he got the week off for his honeymoon with his wife Brie Bella. His energy would have really helped the show. I imagine some fans at the arena were likely upset that he wasn't there.
It's nice to see them care about the IC Title enough to have a tournament to find a top contender, but I'll wait to see if they book the title the right way. They still completely ignore the US Title all the time. The Barrett/Ziggler match was the best of the four.
I'm glad Cena vs. Wyatt is continuing. It's been an entertaining feud up until the awful Photoshop comedy bit by Cena.
I'm looking forward to how they continue to build this Evolution vs. Shield match at Extreme Rules. Perhaps it will be a tornado tag match so all six guys can go at it at once. They need to put some stipulation on it. I'm very intrigued by it.
Raw wasn't must see this week and it wasn't as memorable as last week, but I still like where things are headed.
Check out my column archive at WhatCulture.com as well as visiting that site daily for plenty of other wrestling and pop culture related content. Thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org