Live from Baltimore, Maryland this is the Raw Deal for episode #1091. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
Raw opened with a video package about the end of last week's show when The Shield had to deal with an unfair tag match and then were destroyed by the returning Evolution group. That set up the Evolution vs. Shield match at Extreme Rules, which Triple H announced officially on Smackdown.
The WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan and his wife Brie Bella entered the ring. Huge "yes" chants for them. Stephanie McMahon entered before they could say anything. There's a "Steph's Kid Is Mine" sign in the front row. Which one? She has three.
Stephanie offered them congratulations for their wedding. They wanted to get them a wedding present. At Extreme Rules it's Daniel Bryan vs. Kane for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. She kept on rambling on about how Kane is back to being the "devil's favorite demon" with the mask on his face.
Kane's music started to play. He didn't appear at the entrance. Stephanie told him not to come out now. Kane entered through the crowd and dominated Bryan outside the ring. Brie ran away. Kane drove Bryan into the barricade at ringside. Kane followed it up with a Tombstone Piledriver on Bryan outside the ring. Kane also gave Bryan a Tombstone on the ring steps. Bryan did a stretcher job with his neck in a brace, but Kane came back to attack some more. Kane gave him another Tombstone, this time on the announce table. Stephanie called him a bastard. Kane walked away one more time as Bryan was placed on a stretcher again. Is Brie still running?
Analysis: Kane was booked like a loser for so long without the mask that they needed to do something like this with him. It makes people forget about all the losses he had as "Corporate Kane" an re-establishes him as a main event level heel. He won't beat Bryan for the WWE Title, but he comes off as a credible opponent after doing this to the champion.
In other sad news, Bryan's dad passed away earlier on Monday. Wrestling is a weird business sometimes, but this will allow him to fly home to be with his family at a time when he needs to be with them. Condolences to the Danielson family on their loss. You could see Bryan was visibly shaken a bit so it makes sense that they would do an injury angle to write him out of the show quickly.
Doctors and officials helped Bryan. Brie was out there with him. Announcers were in SERIOUS VOICES~! mode of course. As Bryan was wheeled away, Stephanie asked for a round of applause for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield went over replays of what happened. Meanwhile, the tourney to determine the #1 Contender to the IC Title continues.
Bad News Barrett showed up to deliver some bad news, which was that Sheamus was going to be defeated by him.
Bad News Barrett vs. Sheamus
The crowd seemed to like Barrett more even though he's the heel. Sheamus was aggressive early. He even hit a cross body block off the top to the floor. Barrett was able to take control as they battled on the apron and he hit a boot to the face that sent Sheamus to the floor. Vintage floor to commercial break.
Sheamus regained the advantage with a powerslam and some knee attacks. Sheamus hit his 10 forearms to the chest and a shoulder block off the top for two followed by the backbreaker for two. Sheamus missed a Brogue Kick and Barrett hit the Winds of Change (Bossman Slam) for two. Sheamus ducked the Bull Hammer Elbow and hit the White Noise for two. Another good nearfall there. They did a spot by the ropes where Sheamus took Barrett down with a cross body block over the top. Very big spot by two big guys. Crowd started chanting "this is awesome" for them. Sheamus went for a charge on Barrett outside the ring, but Barrett countered with the Bull Hammer Elbow for the win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Bad News Barrett
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a really entertaining match towards the end. They really won the crowd over with some exciting nearfalls and a hot finish as Barrett hit the elbow. Two big guys that can brawl. That's what we want to see more often. As for Sheamus, he lost clean to Batista on Smackdown and here as well. Perhaps it's a sign of a heel turn for him because he's usually booked stronger than that. Keep an eye on it. Right now there's no sign of it, but it could happen.
Evolution will be on later.
There was another video package about Bo Dallas telling us to Bolieve.
Hugh Jackman is on Raw next week as the guest star. They mentioned Hugh Jackman on Raw from September 2011 when he hit Dolph Ziggler, which led to Zack Ryder winning the match. Zack Ryder getting his hand raised is a foreign concept on Raw these days. They showed some tweets from Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow talking about it, which will likely lead to a match with them next week that will involve Jackman.
Analysis: Jackman was great when he was the host three years ago. One of the best they've ever had on Raw. He really seems to understand the business as a fan and fit in well. I'm looking forward to seeing him again.
Pick John Cena's opponent for tonight using WWE App to vote: A) Luke Harper, B) Luke Harper & Erick Rowan or C) Luke Harper, Erick Rowan & Bray Wyatt. So it's either a singles match or multiple handicap matches.
Bray Wyatt appeared on the stage with Harper & Rowan behind him. The arena was in darkness except for the lights on them. Wyatt said tonight would be a night for change. He was thinking that the power is in your hands (the fans), so tonight free will does exist. Wyatt wondered what fate they will choose. It's either less pain for Cena or to learn the truth. "We stand against you." Whether it's a steel cage or in your mind, they stand against John Cena. Wyatt said that they (the fans) don't love Cena anymore. Wyatt ended up doing his song "he's got the whole world in his hands" as some of the crowd joined him in singing it. That was the most fun part for me when I attended the April 7 Raw in New Orleans. Wyatt ended the promo with a smile.
Analysis: Solid as usual. I like the idea that they stand against Cena and that the decision is in the hands of the fans. They could make it easy on Cena by giving him only one opponent or make it more difficult by having a handicap match against either two or three guys. Wyatt's a great talker and it's awesome that he gets promo time every week.
Los Matadores and El Torito were in the ring waiting to face off with 3MB with Hornswoggle. That's right, Hornswoggle is with 3MB. They set up the angle on Main Event last week, which led to a Torito/Hornswoggle match on Smackdown. The announcers used their full over the top, sarcastic voices to talk about this.
Los Matadores & El Torito vs. Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal & Hornswoggle w/Heath Slater
Torito and Hornswoggle faced off with a slap fest early on. Headscissors by Torito and a cross body block followed by a Bronco Buster. Moonsault by Torito. Mahal broke up the pin. One of the Matadores took out Mahal and McIntyre knocked the other off the apron. McIntyre faced off with Torito, which led to Torito hitting Slater off the apron and the Matadores helped him put down McIntyre. Torito hit a top rope senton splash on McIntyre for the win after about four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Los Matadores & El Torito
Analysis: I don't know what to say except I feel bad for McIntyre, who was once the "Chosen One" and is now losing to a little person. What a shame.
Batista, Triple H and Randy Orton were shown arriving in a limo. Conveniently, it was at the top of hour two.
At the top of hour two, the music of Evolution started up as they showed a video of the group from back then and then clips of them in their current form. Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista entered to the Evolution theme song, which was awesome. It's the 2014 version of Evolution: Missing Ric Flair and with a lot less hair too. JBL said they were the greatest faction ever and The Shield might be the second best. Sure. Everything is the greatest thing ever on this show. I like The Shield, but that's a bit much. Evolution is arguably the best WWE group ever.
Triple H's throat is sore. It was hard to get what he was saying. Orton said that the reason they're together is because of some stupid actions by The Shield. They aired an Evolution video package. Like I said, they had a lot more hair back then. The video did a good job of mixing old clips in with current highlights.
Batista mentioned that they had 31 World Titles between the three of them. He said The Shield has no idea of what they were getting themselves into. "Deal with that." Cue the music of The Shield.
The Shield entered the ring. Evolution walked up the ramp. Why can't they chase after them? It's like there's a force field or something preventing people to chase after others up the ramp. Dean Ambrose said that wasn't the first time they got beat up and won't be the last. Ambrose: "Do we look humbled to you?" He called Orton a "creampuff" when he mentioned that they were a protector of him. Seth Rollins said they knew what they were getting themselves into because they started this. Rollins said Evolution is not built for dominance. He said at Extreme Rules it's going to be all out war. Rollins mentioned that Orton and Batista are going to look out for themselves while Triple H will do what's best for the boss. Rollins said they're the most dominant force in WWE history and at Extreme Rules, this reunion is going to come to an abrupt halt.
Roman Reigns was last to speak for his team. He gave them an ultimatum. He'll drop the microphone and they'll beat their ass. Reigns suggested that they try to fight or they can be creampuffs that cower away and hide. He dropped the microphone. They went up the ramp. Other heels on the roster stood beside Evolution as The Shield were getting closer. Hunter said there's always an option three. "In life, you either adapt or you perish. That is Evolution." That was said by Triple H in his raspy voice.
Analysis: I really liked that Evolution video package. Some fans weren't watching in 2003/2004, so it's a good way to re-introduce them and encourage them to see what they missed. Ambrose is still the best talker in The Shield. Rollins spoke more here. He's not great at talking yet because it sounds like he's trying too hard. He needs to be more natural. Reigns still doesn't talk a lot. That's fine for now. When he gets a big push he'll need to talk more. As for Triple H's voice, he has a sore throat. Guess he felt like he could get through it. He spoke less than he usually would.
They replayed the Kane attack on Bryan from earlier. The announcers said Bryan was undergoing an examination at the hospital as they used SERIOUS VOICES~! to talk about it.
A reminder of the Cena match vote on the WWE App.
There was a new Adam Rose video party dancing on his bus with his people. "It's party time all the time" apparently. He's coming soon to Raw.
They mentioned WWE Network with some Hall of Fame speeches shown this week at 10pmET. Cole said "WWE Network is just like Netflix, but better." That's their tagline? Really?
Ryback and Curtis Axel joined the announce team for the next match. They showed a clip of Total Divas with Jimmy Uso (John) marrying Naomi (Trinity). That was from a few months ago, but it was shown on Total Divas this week. Jimmy's dad Rikishi didn't go to the wedding even though he said he would. Oh the controversy. Yes I watch Total Divas because I want to lose my brain cells without the help of alcohol.
The Usos vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust
This is not for the tag titles. It's a babyface tag team match. Ryback: "Look at you guys. You've been announcing for years and you still suck." That was good. They went back and forth early on with Rybaxel not offering match on commentary. Huge kick on Goldust and then a huge superkick on Cody as he was going for Cross Rhodes. I think it was Jimmy that got the final kick. The match went only three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Post match, Goldust tried to help Cody up. He shoved Goldust away and walked away.
Analysis: * Just a short match to put over the tag champs. Looks like the Rhodes Brothers split is coming soon. Some thought it would be before WrestleMania, but looks like it is starting now.
Post match, Ryback and Axel attacked the tag team champs. Jimmy got sent outside the ring. Axel hit a running knee to the face of Jey and Ryback hit Shellshock.
Analysis: We can pencil in The Usos vs. Ryback and Axel at Extreme Rules after that segment.
They showed some clips of their "Slam City" animated show on the internet. Animated Mark Henry yelled "that's what I do" after kicking some ass.
Fandango was in the ring dancing with Layla.
Emma w/Santino vs. Layla w/Fandango
How long will this feud last? They did it so much with Summer Rae and now with Layla there they just keep it going. Fandango attacked Santino outside the ring. Layla attacked early with a cheap shot. Emma missed a dropkick, but then she hit a clothesline. Santino attacked Fandango with the Cobra strike outside the ring. Emma pulled out a pink cobra sleeve from her boot and hit Layla with a Cobra Strike leading to the pinfall win. Match went two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Emma
Post match, the Cobras that that they had on their hands were infatuated with each other.
Analysis: I like Emma as a worker. I think Layla is a good fit with Fandango. I'm just so sick of this boring feud.
Cena's in a match later that you can vote for on the WWE App.
The announcers said Legends House is a huge hit. Of course it is. Surprised they didn't call it the greatest show ever.
John Cena was interviewed by the lovely Renee Young backstage. He was in serious mode to sell that he could be in a precarious position. There was a "Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks" chant that caused him to pause. Ever since WrestleMania, he's heard the same song getting louder: "he's got the whole world in his hands." He mentioned that if he gets voted by the WWE Universe to face all three Wyatt Family members then so be it. Tonight the objective is simple: survive. Cena said Wyatt should try his best to put him down, but never count him out.
Analysis: That was better than last week's comedy promo. Serious Cena is usually solid.
Cesaro entered with Paul Heyman along with a new theme song. It sounds like alarms playing at the start of it sort of like Scott Steiner's old theme song. Heyman mentioned that Brock Lesnar conquered Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania. They went to break.
During the commercial, I turned on the WWE App to hear more of Heyman's promo. He just mentioned that Brock Lesnar conquered Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania while last year a Heyman Guy couldn't do it. He didn't say CM Punk's name.
Back from break, Heyman kept saying that Lesnar beat Undertaker at WrestleMania as a way to annoy people. RVD's music started to begin the next match.
Cesaro w/Paul Heyman vs. Rob Van Dam
There was a backbreaker by Cesaro early on. Kick by RVD followed by a monkey flip. They went to break about two minutes into the match. I don't even know what the last move was. Don't hate me. I am easily distracted.
Back from break, Cesaro with a double foot stomp and he kept RVD grounded with a chinlock as we approached hour two. RVD was able to create some space after a kick. Clothesline by RVD followed by a kick to the face and Rolling Thunder for two. RVD to the top and he hit a jumping side kick to the face. He wanted the Five Star Frog Splash, but Cesaro popped up with an uppercut to knock him down. Split legged moonsault by RVD. Director was showing Heyman's face instead of the two count. Oops. RVD missed a kick in the corner, so Cesaro hit another uppercut shot to the face for two. RVD got a leg scissors for a two count. Cesaro countered with a Powerbomb. Very close to dropping RVD on his head there. They replayed it to show that it really was closer than it appeared live. Jack Swagger's music started up as he appeared with Zeb Colter on the stage. RVD kicked Cesaro outside the ring. Swagger walked down to ringside. RVD with a dive off the top, but Cesaro gave him an uppercut to knock him down. Swagger shoved Cesaro into the steel post while the ref was looking at RVD. Ref counted really fast and Cesaro couldn't get back in, so he lost after 14 minutes.
Winner by countout: Rob Van Dam
Analysis: **1/2 It makes sense that the babyface would win since a heel Barrett is in the finals. I didn't love the finish, but they likely did it that way to avoid having Cesaro getting pinned. It protects him and makes him look stronger by having him lose by countout.
Post match, Swagger tried to attack Cesaro. Cesaro gave him a back body drop over the top rope. Cesaro wanted to give Colter the Swing, but Swagger saved his manager. Cesaro knocked down Swagger and gave him the Cesaro Swing.
Analysis: That was a good post match angle to get Cesaro his heat back after a loss.
The graphic showed us the #1 Contender IC Title tourney brackets. Barrett will face RVD in the finals and likely end up winning that match next week to set up the Extreme Rules IC Title match against Big E.
They replayed Kane's attack on Daniel Bryan again as the announcers talked about Bryan undergoing tests at the hospital. Cole said that Bryan had a bad stinger, but the prognosis is good. The greatest medical update ever is when they said Jerry Lawler had "anal bleeding" a few years ago.
That Cena match vote is still to come.
Backstage, RVD was interviewed by Renee Young. Cesaro and Heyman showed up to say that RVD could not beat the King of Swing on his own. Heyman said the RVD that he used to know wouldn't take such a tainted victory. RVD told Cesaro to keep his possessions away from Heyman. That's some quality life advice. Heyman was shocked by that, so RVD pointed at himself.
Analysis: I assume they'll do a rematch soon.
They showed full entrances for Aksana and Paige. Paige will face Tamina at Extreme Rules because Tamina won that awful battle royal on Main Event.
Paige vs. Aksana
This non-title. They did this match on Smackdown. Paige was aggressive early on. Aksana overpowered here with an arm drag and then a suplex. Chin lock by Aksana followed by a back elbow. Sidewalk slam by Aksana and then Paige hit a few clotheslines. Aksana hit a sloppy spinebuster for two. Paige hit a stiff knee to the face and then a clothesline. A yell woke up the crowd. Paige applied the Scorpion Cross Lock and Aksana tapped out after five minutes.
Winner by submission: Paige
Analysis: * The crowd isn't familiar enough with either woman to care about a match like this, but they're giving them five minutes of in-ring time to do their best. Paige's offense looks great. Better than most of the girls in WWE.
This week on Smackdown it's Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger. I still think that's a match for Extreme Rules, but perhaps they'll do RVD vs. Cesaro at ERules instead. Not sure yet.
I love that the Ravishing Russian Lana gets her own theme song just to appear on the stage. I also love looking at her. She did her big intro for Alexander Rusev, who gets his own theme song. At Extreme Rules it's Rusev vs. R-Truth & Xavier Woods in a handicap match.
Alexander Rusev w/Lana vs. Sin Cara
I wrote "Winner by submission: Alexander Rusev" before the match started. Rusev drove his knees to the ribs of Sin Cara and then hit a fallaway slam. Forearm shot to the face. The crowd was chanting "JBL" because they were so bored. Sin Cara got a kick to the head, but Rusev countered the headscissors. Sin Cara got a one count on a rollup and hit a back elbow. Kick to the face of Rusev and a missile dropkick. Running shoulder block by Rusev and then a suplex. Powerslam and then the Accolade submission (Camel Clutch) for the win after about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Alexander Rusev
Analysis: My biggest complaint about these squash matches is that the camera isn't on Lana enough. Fine looking woman. I'm surprised they had Rusev sell for Sin Cara as long as he did. I didn't expect him to sell anything.
That Cena match vote is up next.
There was another Bolieve video for Bo Dallas telling us to be prepared. "If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!" Thanks Bo.
John Cena entered the ring for his main event match. Jerry Lawler had the results of the WWE App vote: Cena vs. all three Wyatt Family members got the most votes with 53%, 38% for a match against Harper and 9% for Harper/Rowan as a team. They went to break with Cena looking concerned. Poor John. That's the same face he makes when his girlfriend says something stupid on Total Divas, but at least she's pretty.
The Wyatt Family made their entrance. They jumped Cena before the bell. Then they went out of the ring as the match began.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan
The mixed chants for Cena started as Rowan drove Cena head first into the turnbuckle. Rowan with a fallaway slam. Wyatt picked up Cena and it was as if he was dancing with him. Then he punched Cena in the face. Harper tagged in. Cena hit a German suplex on him, so Rowan tagged in. Harper got attacked again as Cena applied a STF on him. Rowan made the save because he's such a good friend. Harper sent Cena to the floor, Rowan tagged in and together they worked on Cena outside the ring as Harper threw Cena into the steel steps. There's the vintage floor to commercial break.
Back from break, Cena hit a nice leaping DDT off the middle ropes on Harper for two. Wyatt tagged in with a nice spinebuster for two. Cena got in some offense on Rowan, but Wyatt tagged in and hit a splash in the corner. Wyatt went upside down and did his crab walk across the ring. Cena came back with a clothesline. Cena came back with his spinning suplex, shoulder tackles and Five Knuckle Shuffle. He hit the Attitude Adjustment and covered, but Rowan & Harper broke it up. Ref called for the bell and the DQ finish. Match went 14 minutes.
Winner by DQ: John Cena
Analysis: *1/2 It wasn't a strong main event match. Cena's comeback was brief, so it was basically a guy selling the whole match and not getting a chance to come back. If you're a Cena hater, you can complain that he won the match although I don't know why it's a DQ if the guys in the match break up a pin. They should have rang the bell a little later. It seemed rushed.
Post match, Rowan and Harper destroyed Cena to knock him out. Wyatt hit the Sister Abigail neckbreaker on Cena.
Wyatt did a promo saying all things come to light. "He's got the whole world in his hands. He's got the whole wide world in his hands." The crowd was singing along with him, but it's not like everybody was singing it. Wyatt kept on singing it as Raw ended like that.
Analysis: It was the second week in a row with heels looking dominant at the end. It feels like we've seen that kind of ending before in this storyline. There's a lack of freshness. Also, everybody in the back must hate Cena since nobody ever tries to save him. Maybe they are jealous of his cars. That must be it!
Three Stars of the Show
1. Kane - Welcome back to the devil's favorite demon.
2. Bad News Barrett
5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
2014 Average: 6.63
2014 High: 9 (April 7)
2014 Low: 5 (February 3)
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 9, NR, 6, 7
It gets a 5 out of 10, which is below the yearly average of 6.63 that you can see above. That 6.63 number is higher than any other year of the five years I've been doing this, so it's been a strong start to 2014. This show fell flat, though.
The Kane angle with Daniel Bryan was really well done. As I said earlier, they had to re-establish Kane as a threat to Bryan. What they did really worked well. That doesn't mean Kane is going to win the WWE Title. It just means people will believe he has a chance and that's what matters.
It was a boring main event. Three hours of hype for a boring main event doesn't make me excited. I think Cena vs. Wyatt at Extreme Rules has the potential to be awesome, but this match just didn't work for me.
A match with The Shield winning would have been a good idea. Their angle with Evolution was solid. Nothing special, though.
The heels looked strong all night since Kane destroyed Bryan, Wyatt Family beat up Cena and Evolution outsmarted The Shield.
Next week is the last Raw before Extreme Rules. Hopefully it's a better show than this one.
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